I Choose Life

In my neighborhood, we have a couple of streams running through and a few drainage ditches. This is the reason I moved here. When I was little, when I would visit my grandmother, there were streams in her neighborhood where the kids would play. We would walk through the water with our bare feet and lift up the rocks, looking for “craw-dads” and salamanders. Sometimes we would find a snake on the bank, a small green one we could pick up, or a long black one that would be the hot topic for the next hour. It was paradise.
Little did I know then how precious and scarce water would become in my own lifetime. We don’t see it now, but I assure you, it is. Only 1% of the water on earth is drinkable. 1 billion people live without clean water. And with our industrial (mining) applications, especially the rush to drill for gas, we are using it up at an alarming rate.
I know you’ve heard it all before, but it amazes me how many people are in denial on this, and other, subjects of environmental import. As if we could live without water. If capitalism is so great, why does the pursuit of profit always end up infringing on someone’s right to something, in this case, clean water? The gas companies are making major, mongo bucks on the gas boom, meanwhile using up water and destorying land values, dredging up radioactive shit from deep inside the earth, scarring the landscape and leaking methane into the atmosphere (which is, by the way, 100 times worse than CO2 for its effect on the climate) and no one seems to be too much bothered by it.
OK. Not NO ONE. There are a lot of people out there like me who see the problem and understand it, who are calling for change, but right now, there is a greater number who apparently would rather have the short-term gain of cheap energy and huge profit than clean water for the rest of our lives. From the lowly workers on the rigs, to the CEOs, to the President himself and everyone in between, there is tidal wave of support, apathy, and ambiguity that keeps this country and the rest of the world in the grip of this industry.
Don’t get me wrong. I am for cheap energy, good jobs, a growing economy, and lots of money for everyone, but you can’t have all that and clean water, too. Not with shale gas extraction the way it is currently done. When I think about the fact that it is EITHER water OR gas, and most people are going for the gas, it amazes me. We can’t live without water, and the process of gas drilling destroys it. Either we have a whole lot of ignorance on the subject, or people are SO selfish that they really don’t give a shit about this planet, or at least their own progeny.
When I think of this, it makes me angry. I know it shouldn’t. I lean toward being a Buddhist. I feel there are many great lessons to learn from Buddhism. This ancient and noble tradition tells us that nothing is permanent, except change. Life as we know it will not exist one day and that will be OK. I guess the message is that I should just accept it, but I can’t.
If it were a matter of natural processes, I would. If it was floods, hurricanes, meteors, it would be easier to take. But we, the human race, who are supposed to be so blessed, the Children of God, we have taken this earth and bent it over our knee and broken it. She is dying because of our greed and selfishness. This hurts me to the core, especially when it is preventable. We are capable of so much more.
My husband says this is part of the natural order of things. Humans are inherently evil, if you believe the Christian line, but for Christians, there is a way out. God will take us up to Heaven (if we’re good) and all will be well in the end. I don’t agree so well with all of that. I believe that heaven or hell is here and now, what we make of this life. And we only have one chance. I am not sure I believe in reincarnation either, but even if I did, it wouldn’t help here, because we are destroying the planet so even if we are reincarnated, we won’t have a place to go.
My husband wonders at my anger and passion over all of this. It is too much for him. He is much older than I am, in a different stage of life. He can’t sustain anger, especially since he came down with a heart condition about six years ago. He has always been a type A person, angry and bitter about things, seeing through bull shit and calling it. That is why I married him. But over the years, I saw his bitterness eat through him. Is this what is going to happen to me? I wonder if I will be around that long, if we all will be.
My husband take the position that all we can do is take care of those close to us. Where I want to save the world, he realizes that that is impossible. And even if we are to change the world, we have to start close to home. That is what he does, and it’s enough for him. I understand it. I use enormous amounts of energy trying to educate people about these problems and sometimes I think I am getting nowhere. Why do I do it?
Is it because I believe in the inherent goodness of people and that somehow the truth will win? I used to believe that, but I have seen too many good people abandon their principles like a sack of potatoes where money is concerned. Here, in my small WV town, gas drilling jobs are among the highest paying anywhere. In fact, they are the only jobs anywhere, for most people here. There is not a large educated constituent, nor do our leaders do a lot of outside-the-box thinking. Innovation waits in line here after opportunity. In our resource-rich state, opportunity means, “Drill, Baby, Drill.”
My neighbors, who raised not only their own children, but their grandchildren as well, have just put a new tin roof on their house. It is red, my favorite color. They both drive really cute little VW Bugs; hers is light blue, his yellow with a black racing stripe. Their life has improved immeasurably since he went to work for the gas company, researching and helping them buy up all the mineral rights in the state, helping them own it. I don’t begrudge him his material pleasures, a pleasant retirement. They have worked hard all their lives and always done the right thing, and they deserve a break in life. What I have trouble with is the idea that my well-being depends on environmental destruction, and somehow that makes it OK. To me, it is NOT OK.
I know there is no way I can fix this. I cannot save the world. Not by myself. But maybe, just maybe, if I keep the faith and work hard and long, I can help. I can educate people, if they will listen, teach them the dangers of this course of action, and show them the way. There ARE better ways to get energy, if only everyone would work together. Isn’t that what they teach in school? Team work?
Do we not care about the fate of others? THIS is the litmus test. How evil are we, really? Maybe the Christian view is right. Maybe we are born to sin and there is no way out except to believe in Jesus. But so many of the Jesus lovers I know really don’t know what he said. They lay claim to the Bible, but the lessons escape them. Jesus and Buddha both spoke of compassion and love. Selfishness has no place in that.
Christians are pro-lifers. Usually, that is interpreted to mean anti-abortion. I submit that if we do not stop this freefall, we will abort the entire human race. It is time to put our morals into practice. Only together will we succeed. The selfish way is the way of death. We have a huge problem looming before us, and very little time to fix it. It is scary, I know, to think of putting ourselves on the line for such a cause. We may make enemies, or lose friends. But we need to ask ourselves what is more important: easy energy and quick money in the short term, or a beautiful healthy earth for our children, their children, and beyond. Time to pick teams.
What team are you on? I know my team. See you at the game.

Be the Water

Water is amazing. It hit me today. Every morning I walk my dog, and after we get home, I wash her off so I can let her into the house again. Today, I also had picked up a trash can lid out of the gutter, which was covered with mud. I used my garden hose to spray off the dog and then the lid, all the while wondering at how water at high pressure can clean things. Water can be soft and gentle, or hard and unrelenting. It can fortify or destroy. It is necessary for life, but can also be an agent of death and destruction. But the most important thing about water is, it is finite. There is only so much of it. And once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Only 1% of the water on earth is fresh water. We have polluted much of it and continue to do so with our pursuit of dirty energy. Think of all the ways in which we use water. We drink it, of course. We cook with it, bathe in it, swim in it. We use it for cleaning, for art (painting), to water the plants. We use it for enjoyment (think fountains). We wonder at what it can do to landscapes over time. It comes from the sky and falls to earth, stored in large bodies called ponds or lakes, then evaporates again, traveling around the globe. It freezes into crystals and collects into dew drops. It is truly a blessing, and life as we know it would not exist without it.

Why, then, do we squander it so? We are so cavalier with it. We use too much of it. We dump trash and chemicals into it. We chlorinate and fluoridate it. We use it for industrial applications, especially dirty energy uses (coal, oil, and gas) and render it into poison. Why would we do this with such a limited, precious substance? Have we gone mad?

I believe we have. We in this country have become so used to our stance as the top-dog that we are loathe to let go of it. To most of us, that means consumption. We don’t feel right unless we have enough to throw away. But are we really at the top? If you look at things that matter, like education, food security, economic stability, and even freedom, it is clear to anyone with a brain that we can do better. And we have. But something has weakened us. We did so well economically in the 1950s, perhaps our hubris soared to such heights then that we can’t imagine any other way.

I propose a more humble approach. I know this won’t be popular, but it will be what saves us, if anything can. My mother was a Depression baby. She taught me to conserve, be frugal, not spend money on things I don’t need. She taught me to reduce, reuse, recycle before it became fashionable (sadly, out of necessity). It used to be a principle of living, that went beyond material things, but now it’s all just propaganda. Have we really reduced our consumption? I don’t see it.

If you haven’t heard of the Pacific Garbage Patch, you should look it up. It is an island of plastic and junk floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, three times the size of Texas. Every one of the seven oceans has one. Lately here in WV, since the coal chemical spill that tainted the drinking water for 300,000 people, there has been a stark increase in the number of plastic bottles consumed, because the people no longer trust their water supply, and can you blame them? Many in the Charleston, WV area will not drink the water, preferring to spend money they shouldn’t have to on bottled water, but do they recycle? Some estimates say we only recycle 1% of the plastic that we buy. This means the rest is going into the trash, and into landfills, where it will leach BPAs into the soil and water table, but some of it will escape and find its way into the waterways and eventually into the oceans, moving into the vortexes, where it will be pulverized into tiny fragments that are eaten by fish (thus, eventually, by us in many cases) or float in the water where the BPAs and other compounds will leach into the ocean and poison the organisms there, eventually finding their way up the food chain.

Why are we so blind, or stubborn, or ignorant as to allow this to happen? I know the earth is really big, but there are over 7 billion people on the earth and it will only increase exponentially. As our numbers increase, our footprint is only going to get bigger. If we don’t stop it, or slow it down markedly, we are going to kill the earth’s ability to sustain life. I believe it’s going to happen soon.

But, as always, those with money will probably be OK. They will be the ones that can buy their own aquifers (*cough* Bush Family *cough*), or pay to move out to a space station. Maybe they will pay for the research to create water, but they will own the patent for it and only a few select individuals will be privy to it. And after a few generations, the human race will start again, but the genetic makeup will be different. The variety will be gone. We will spawn from a race of rich people. What kind of people will these be, people who buy up aquifers for themselves instead of safeguarding what we already have, for the good of all?

I imagine the world like something out of a Star Trek episode then. Their children will look out the window at the planet that was once so wondrous, now as desolate as the moon. Maybe they will remember that is was us who destroyed it, or maybe they will be taught a mythical version of history. What, then, will become of ethics? Will they teach right and wrong to their children, or will the memory of what we could have done but did not be so painful that all they will know is lies? 

It is sad to think that we could destroy something as beautiful and majestic, something as amazing and perfect as the very planet we live on. We have such intelligence, such power, we could stop it now. Right now. Before it’s too late. It seems that isn’t going to happen, though. The people who understand how catastrophic this is aren’t being listened to. Greed and consumption are winning. We must have dirty energy, so that large companies can profit, and the people can continue to consume and live at the high standards we have become accustomed to, instead of scaling it down so that we can live here for a few more generations.

It seems that beauty is always worth preserving. Perfection is hard to come by, but this planet with all of its perfectly attuned processes and amazing life forms is pretty close. I have a friend who always reminds me, when things are tough, to be the water. It is very Zen, this statement. Be the flow, the quiet, the life. I am trying, honestly I am. When I look at the greed and destruction around me, I want to be a hurricane, a tsunami, a water fall, or a flood. I want to rush through, tearing up the bad things and starting all over. And afterward, the calm.

I hope we still have water by the time my grandchildren are born. Then I can show them the water and they can touch it and feel it and learn to be it. I want them to be able to learn the Zen lessons that it carries within its fluidity. I want it to still mean something when I say, “Be the water.”

Hopes and Fears for the New Year

Happy New Year, Friends.

Like everyone, I am glad for another chance to do some good and improve myself. I hope that the world will get better, not worse. I wish for more love, tolerance, respect, and husbandry of our world and each other. I look forward to doing more things fun, great, exciting, and productive. I pray that beauty will overtake ugliness and generosity will overcome greed.

But that’s not what I see. I see floods that threaten to overflow pits of toxic water at the tops of mountains, leaks and explosions of crude oil from pipelines and trains, radiation spewing into our oceans and traveling from distant lands to our homeland shores. Whether by water, land, or air, our greed and lack of caution threaten to overtake us. And they will. It’s just a matter of time.

I would rather be able to say “Happy New Year” with a free and light heart. And I do, in a sense. I say it in the sense that I believe I am doing what I should do to take care of myself, my family, those I love, and, as best I can, the Earth that is our home. But I’m not the only person in the world, and I can’t get to everyone. I wish I could.

I can only hope and pray that I can light a flame of curiosity and activism in others, and watch it spread, and see us work together to fix the mess we have gotten ourselves into. I want the Earth to live and her people to prosper. And that is what I am doing here on Facebook. Not hanging out. My presence here has purpose. I want to bring meaning to this life, because I believe it is worth saving. But I’m not sure we have the discipline to do what it takes to save ourselves from the trap we have created. Yet, for some reason, I keep trying. I must be crazy.

Hope is eternal, and human beings are not rational. I hold on to the thread of hope that human love will win out. I fight with myself everyday, asking, “Is it really going to make any difference what I do?” I guess, if I didn’t try, I would be as guilty as those who blindly and wickedly wreak havoc on the beauty and wonder of this place we have been given. It is such a wonderful place, or it was. I suppose I should be happy for what we had. They say to never look back, but soon, what we had will be the only thing worth looking at.

I hope we make it another year. I wonder how close we are to the last. The best I can do is the best I can do. I wish peace, new beginnings, and prosperity for us all, but more than that, I wish strength, courage and fortitude. We’re going to need it.

Walk, Run, Prance

I’m almost 47. I’ve been active my whole life. As a kid, I climed trees, rode my bike, hiked, swam, etc. As an adult, I started taking classes after my first child was born. Aerobics was the thing I did for the longest time, starting in the 1990s (first floor, then step) then I added yoga, zumba, insanity…you get the idea. Over the years, I’ve developed a few long-term injuries, starting in my 20s. It became necessary for me to learn to accommodate my sleep and exercise habits around them, and it seemed as soon as they would get better, I would push myself (anxious to get back to my old patterns, afraid of losing ground) into pain again. As I’ve aged, nursing myself through injuries that seemed to never go away completely (mostly because I refused to slow down), I finally decided it is best to be cautious. I believe have finally learned to take it easy (I hope) and stop before I hurt myself.

Running was never my thing. In college, I had to run a mile in 12 minutes for an exercise class and I was crippled for three days. I literally could not walk. I vowed to never do it again. I have had hip and shoulder issues since I was a teenager. Yet, walking (especially in my neighborhood) bored me. Besides, I liked my exercise classes just fine. But as the exercise scene has changed, so have the trends, and the new modalities are not always kind to an aging body. I LOVE Zumba, but it didn’t treat my hips and knees very well. As I have aged, I have found that the pain from my injuries often trumped my desire to dance, jump, stretch, pull, and twist myself into a frenzy. But I also knew that moving helped my hips keep from aching.

Owning a dog, an aging one at that, and loving her enough to not let her get fat, and wanting to keep her hips from getting stiff, I started walking her on a fairly regular basis a couple of years ago. Somehow, walking my precious girl was not boring. She loved it, and looked forward to it so much, her ears wold perk up every time she saw me putting on my shoes and coat (unfortunately, I was usually going to work). I also got a lot of satisfaction knowing I was keeping her heart strong, and I watched her slim down, losing 24 pounds over a two-year time period. Often, we would walk a ways, and I would feel good enough to step it up, and I would run a bit ( a slow run, call it a jog). This is what I called my walk/run.

Jogging was nice, but I couldn’t keep it up. Nor did I want to. My body is unpredictable. Sometimes, my hips would ache as if I had a golf ball inside the joint. Sometimes it was from sitting too much. (Driving kills me!) Sometimes, from too much exercise. I knew from experience that I had to push myself enough to make progress, but not so much as to cause pain, because then I would be down for a few days to a week, depending on my pain and my work schedule, and the weather could also hold me back (I am kind of a wuss when it comes to rain and cold). It took a long time to know how much I could walk and run/jog without hurting myself.

One day, while jogging, I decided to experiment. I noticed I was running on my heels, but thought, what would happen if I hit the pavement with the balls of my feet first? I tried it and, to my surprise, I liked it. It was certainly easier on my joints, but I seemed to have more energy, especially going uphill, more spring in my step. I felt lighter and faster. Now, when I run, or jog, I almost always run on the balls of my feet. Today, I named this “new” mode of ambluation. I call it Prancing. (Sometimes I do go back to running on my heels, but only briefly, just to compare. Pracing always wins out.)

Prancing is fun, and it makes you feel sexy, youthful, and lighthearted. I notice my calves and butt working harder, and what lady doesn’t want nice, firm, high calves and glutes? I also notice that I can go faster and longer prancing than I can running on my heels. And I twist my body more prancing, working my abs more. All in all, I think it’s a better exercise for a sexy body. And almost everyone appreciates that.

Prancing, as the name would suggest, also suggests a certain playfulness, innocence, and “joie de vivre.” Who doesn’t appreciate feeling joyful while exercising? Quantum physics now suggests that our consciousness may actually cause things to happen, meaning the way we think can influence the direction of things, of our lives, in a more direct way than we knew before. Buddhism and yoga encourage us to be open, accepting, and aware of our thoughts and feelings, and that by harnessing and controlling the body, we can learn to reform the spirit. Jesus said to honor the children, because their innocence carries a unique type of wisdom that adults can not understand, but one that the world needs. Prancing combines all of these qualities: the innocence, the joy, the control, and pulls them together into one beautiful wave of peaceful action. So, next time you decide to go out for a run, remember to Prance. You may find a new joy in your exercise routine, in yourself, and in your life.

Lies and Propaganda – the rise of the corporation and the fall of America

There is a large amount of disturbing stuff going on today in the world and the U.S. I am particularly concerned about GMOs and Fracking and their impact on our environment and personal health. I probably don’t have to tell you that GMOs are nutritionally inferior, but studies are finding, even worse, they may be responsible for a variety of illnesses, such as leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s, and IBS. The companies that make GMOs are allowed to claim that their products are “substantially equivalent” to natural foods, which is bull shit. Check out these links for a bit more education on this topic:

Glyphosate and GMOs impact on crops, soils, animals and man – Dr Don Huber

Genetically Modified Corn contains practically no nutrients but is loaded with Chemical Poisons | World Truth.TV

You can also read the book In Defense of Food and others by Michael Pollan, see the films “The Future of Food” by Deborah Koons Garcia, “Food Matters,” “Food, Inc.,” and others. Agri-business and Big Pharma are linked, in that, the sicker we get off the GMO and processed food we eat, the more money Big Pharma makes. As you will learn from these resources, agri-business is so intent on controlling the food supply that it takes farmers to court and sues them for tens of thousands of dollars or more for “patent infringement” for saving and replanting GMO seeds, or if GMO seeds enter their non-GMO crops by seed-dispersal by birds or wind, even cross-pollination. Monsanto has patents on over 11,000 seeds and if they “catch” you trying to save their seed and re-use it without paying them royalties, they will sue you for patent infringement.    OCA’s Resource Center on Genetically Modified Wheat   This is a blow from which most farmers it happens to can never recover. The number of non-corporate farms is already dangerously small, and seed diversity has been shrinking exponentially. The government’s policy of supporting Big Agra cuts down the small farmer deals a debilitating blow to local farming, small business, food integrity, and good nutritional practices in the United States and around the world. These seeds are shipped everywhere and will eventually contaminate the entire food supply. And then there’s the engineered tilapia, salmon, and other fish that can escape the farm and end up contaminating wild populations. Over a Million Comments Filed on GE Salmon as New Evidence Emerges of Deeply Flawed Review | PR Watch There is almost no end to it.

Another major problem we have today is the emphasis on natural gas as an “alternative energy source” and the new way of extracting it from the Marcellus and other shale regions: hydraulic fracturing. Big Oil and Gas likes to perpetuate fear and hope by telling us that we can be “energy independent” if we would only use this “clean fuel,” natural gas, instead of oil. Natural gas burns cleaner and will solve our energy needs for the immediate future, they say, while we slowly develop green energy. This last thing is just a concession to the environmentalists, but I don’t believe these industries really intend to give up the spot at the head of the line any time soon. And, as long as we are spending time and money developing natural gas, we are not spending time and money developing green energy technology.

The problems with fracking are many, but perhaps the biggest problem is the load on local water supplies. A huge amount of water is required for the process. This is taken from rivers and streams (often against the will of the local people). Once this water is laced with the endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic chemicals they use, it is no longer useable. Much of what is shoved underground stays there, to possibly migrate later through the cracks in the shale that they make bigger by shooting in water, sand, and around 600 chemicals to make the drill bit slippery and open fissures in the rock. What comes back is gases and liquids from underground, including brine and radiation, along with some of the water they poisoned. The most common type of radiation to come to the surface is Radium 226, but there is also radium-228 and radon gas. A landfill in PA rejected a truckful of waste water from a fracking truck because the levels were 84 times higher than federal safe levels. Fracking debris considered too radioactive even for waste site — RT USA

Additionally, many aquifers have been contaminated beyond repair by a leaky drill hole. The industry will tell you they use concrete to seal the hole, but since they cannot see underground, there is no guarantee that this enclosure is 100% intact. This doesn’t touch what happens to the casing over time, with the changes in weather. We have seen what one winter does to our roads. Every well must pass through an aquifer, and even the initial passing of the drill will, at the very least, stir up dirt and rock into that aquifer. If the casing is not perfect it will fail immediately. Many of them that are perfect still fail over 30 years’ time. How could they not?

We only have so much fresh water on the planet, and it is a tiny fraction of the total water we have. Fracking uses around 5 million gallons per well, per frack. One well pad can have up to 12 well heads, and each well can be fracked more than once. (Watch Josh Fox’s “Gasland” and “Gasland 2” for more disturbing facts.) Currently, in the entire world, all the fresh water we have amounts to about 22,339 mi3 or about 23 trillion gallons. How much water is on Earth, from the USGS Water Science School The industry currently uses water at a rate of tens of billions of gallons per year. http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/frackingReport.pdf   This water is non-reclaimable. We must remember that water is a finite resource and cannot be created by us. We could desalinate water but this is an expensive process, uses a great deal of energy, and creates pollution of its own. Desalination – The Ecologist Why should we have to do this when we have enough water if we would only protect it?

Another problem with natural gas is the methane that escapes during the drilling process. Methane is 100 times as potent as CO2 as a greenhouse gas and climate disruptor in the short-term (20-year period). Also, the burning of methane releases more CO2. http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/greeninc/Howarth2011.pdf  It is estimated that up to 9% of drilled wells leak, but it could be more. The industry is not known for its self-regulation.

The underlying problem in all this is how our government is controlled by the huge amounts of money given to the candidates by Super PACs, corporations, individuals with a personal interest in the success of corporations, and other “independent” groups. It is a fact that the more money spent on a campaign, the greater the candidate’s chances of success. Corporations have a huge influence on the laws that are being made today. The corrupt Citizens United ruling seeks to legitimize this power, but corporations are not people and do not deserve the same rights as people. More importantly, people are more important and more fragile than corporations, and need to be protected. Corporations operate on the profit motive. How does this equate them, rights wise, with people? The argument has been that free speech is expressable as money, as if everything comes down to dollars and cents. I disagree, and I hold that this position corrupts the issue, exaggerates the effect of money on our justice system, and puts the common people at a huge disadvantage.  Congressman McGovern Introduces the People’s Rights Amendment | freespeechforpeople.org

If we are to keep power in the hands of the People, where it belings, we need to put limits on campaign contributions. Why? Think of when you were younger and your parents tried to control you. You hated it. You probably yelled at them and told them it wasn’t fair. What did they say? My house, my money, my rules. It’s the same with campaign donations. A candidate who takes large sums of money from an industry or group is bound to do favors for that group, isn’t it? Otherwise, they won’t donate again. Have a look at this website. It shows who is funding YOUR representatives. Search | Dirty Energy Money – Oil Change International

With this corporate influence comes all kinds of un-democratic changes to our society. John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, a legal defense group that pursues cases concerning violations of civil liberties, explains that 55 new crimes are created each year, and most Americans commit three felonies a day without knowing it. Many of these crimes are created by corporations (a good example of this is when Monsanto sues small farmers for patent infringement when their crops are infected with Monsanto seed by natural means) but a huge portion are created by the so-called “war on drugs.” Never mind that drug use, in many cases, is a victimless crime. In recent years, this problem has been compounded by privatized prisons, where criminalization becomes a necessary step to increasing profits. Making prisons into a private enterprise is a huge mistake, and a great imposition on human freedom. Private prisons get paid per bed occupied, which gives them incentive to put pressure on legislators to increase the number of crimes and the severity of penalties. We have more people in prison per capita than any other country in the world. That includes China and North Korea. Think about that. Click on the video: The Criminalization of America. The Rutherford Institute :: Welcome

Speaking of criminalization, and back to food, my home state, West Virginia, whose motto is Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers are always free) has passed laws that make it illegal to sell or even GIVE raw milk  products to friends and family. Will this be extended to fruits and vegetables? Sounds like freedom has been curtailed yet again, and over something so silly. Yet, at the same time, the FDA is considering putting aspartame into milk and not labeling it, under intense pressure from the dairy lobby. Tell the FDA to Reject More Aspartame in Milk! | Food Democracy Now We deserve to know what is in our food.

Food is impossible without honeybees to pollinate plants. Yet, bees are dying in unprecedented numbers. Why? New studies are finding the cause to be fungicides sprayed on trees and crops that surround their hives. This fungicide lowers their immune system and makes them susceptible to a certain parasite that is thought to be responsible for CCD (colony collapse disorder). In addition, a pesticide was just approved that is known to be extremely toxic to bees. Ignoring Bee Crisis, EPA Greenlights New ‘Highly Toxic’ Pesticide | Common Dreams Without bees, we cannot have food. Where is the logic?

We must work tirelessly to correct these problems. The first thing we must do it be aware, educated citizens. Second, we need to organize, get together for discussion, and plan action. Third, we must write, call, and visit our legislators, write letters to the editor, and educate our friends both in person and through social media. Perhaps this will put us on the path to preventing and reversing some of the injustices we are seeing now.

Without good food and adequate water supplies, the human race, perhaps the entire planet, will die out sooner rather than later. Anyone who keeps even one eye on the media can see these things going on. The question is, are we going to do something about it, or will we let our greed destroy us?

C-COM and The Man, part I

My husband and I were talking in the car yesterday on the way to the gym, and he said something about C-COM. Understand, C-COM stands for the “Corporate Cock of Misery.” It is a tongue-in-cheek expression coined by a philosophical and angsty friend of ours. It is all the things we do or are forced to do as a result of our enslavement to “The Man,” the corporation, Big Business, or technology. It embodies all the ways that we are used, controlled, directed, etc., some of which we do not even realize. It refers to the fact that in our work lives, even our leisure lives, we are part of the larger structure that is run and controlled by The Corporation.

You may not realize all the ways in which we are part of C-COM. Of course, the obvious one is our work lives. We get up, shower, eat (or shoot ourselves up with caffeine because it is just too damned early), get dressed in our work “uniform” (most places have some kind of dress code; at my job, we are only allowed to wear jeans on Friday), and we go to work everyday without thinking about how everything we do is organized around the fact that we MUST WORK. What we wear, what we eat, how we act, even the people with whom we associate (or do not associate, since after work we are so tired most of us just want to go home and take a nap or chill in front of one screen or another – another form of conditioning) are all dictated by our place in the social structure of C-COM. And if we are lucky enough to enjoy our work, we may not think much about it, because we feel lucky to have the job. But everything is a trade-off. If you are making a lot of money, you might be working at job with no fulfillment. If you are fulfilled at your job, you probably don’t make a lot.

“NOT ME,” you think, because you work at home. Well, you may have escaped the first tier of C-COM, but it is all around you, and you are affected by it, whether or not you realize it. The Corporation, or corporate structure, or Big Business, are threaded through every aspect of American life. We have become so used to it, we don’t even notice it. It has affected the way we work, eat, and play, even the way we raise (or do not raise) our children. It has to do with the standard of living we expect, but even that is conditioned by C-COM (ad campaigns that influence our attitudes and choice are included).

I think it started sometime in the 1980s. I noticed that suddenly, the price of cars was up significantly from what it had been. And people were choosing more luxurious cars than they had before. My husband had a “stripped down” (that means no electric windows, etc, just a basic car) Nissan which had cost him around $6,000 that had been destroyed by a disgruntled former student (the guy went nuts – that’s another story) and we were able to purchase a Subaru Loyale (also a very basic car, not substantial looking, but actually thin and frail looking, but a good car) for around $8,000 in 1989 (without air conditioning…we had to pay $900 to add that). While shopping for that car, I noticed that finding a car in that price range had been very hard. Soon afterward, I noticed people driving around in bigger, more luxurious, souped up cars (SUVs were becoming popular then, and I hated them for their  air of greed, hubris, and gas consumption) but what I also noticed was that there were fewer stay-at-home moms. Women were going to work in droves, leaving a string of latch-key kids in their wake. This meant the babies were being raised in day-care centers or by the school system, and even when these kids got home, they could not depend on someone to be there to greet them, give them an after-school snack, and monitor their TV watching or send them outside to play. This was the beginning, in my opinion, of the trends we have toward narcissism and obesity, and the sore lack of manners kids have now. Lack of home training is all the fault of C-COM.

I work at the college level as a tutor and I read a lot of the assignments the kids are given. One essay I read last semester was written by a guy who wrote that, because his mother had not been home to cook for him, he had been forced to eat fast food growing up and this was the cause of his obesity problem, which he now carried into his adult life. Whether or not you agree with this, the fact is his mother was not there to cook for him and he, being a kid, was either lazy or uneducated about how to make healthy food choices, but even if they know, most kids will eat what they like, which is usually something bad for them. There is a book, Fast Food Nation, which explains the McDonald’s syndrome, the idea that we are conditioned from a very young age to associate fast food with happiness and comfort, which continues into our adulthood, and then, of course, we indoctrinate our own children into this vicious cycle of fast food consumption. This, too, is part of C-COM.

Today, parents spoil their kids with an overabundance of tech toys: phones, gaming systems, ipods, etc., things that a couple of decades ago were only given to very wealthy kids, but now all kids expect. In the 1970s, it was considered a privilege to have a small, black and white TV in one’s bedroom. In the 1980s this sort of thing became more prevalent. Now, a kid could almost never leave his room. Families used to have one, modestly-sized TV for the house, now there are several and at least one is a giant, or HD, TV. The money that it takes to be an American nowadays is horrendous. Most people in third world countries live on less than $1 a day. We spend more than that on lattes each morning! Can you imagine living on $30 a month? You wouldn’t get a shower or three square meals a day, let alone drive a fat SUV or come home to a shiny, new computer.

Gaming is also a problem, and laziness has become normal in American society. Kids used to have chore requirements but very few now do. Most kids come home and go to the TV, computer, or video game console. Is it any wonder they are obese? Many schools have consolidated and moved their giant buildings far out of town so kids can’t walk to school if they wanted to, but even if they do want to, we are so concerned with their safety we will drive them 500 feet to the bus stop and sit there in the car till the bus gets there! (This is no joke. This happens in my neighborhood every day). This is because we are so paranoid of the kids being kidnapped and abused…when did this begin? Again, sometime in the 1980s, when child sexual abuse was first coming into the public light, and then in the 1990s or so when kidnapping was suddenly a big problem. But we cannot live our lives in fear! I used to walk over 12 blocks to school as a child in grade school in the small city of Charleston, WV. I walked to school almost every day of my life and I believe this was partly responsible for my lack of obesity (along with genetics; my parents were both thin…but most people born before 1970 were thin; back then, fat was the exception; now it is the rule). Today, we have to have studies to tell us to go outside for even five minutes a day.

So how is C-COM responsible for this? Well, as I said, the consolidation of schools (done for budgetary reasons…it’s cheaper to run one big school than several small, local ones, and when you are going to build a large thing like a school you need land, which is almost always found far out of town, necessitating busing) reduced in great measure the number of kids who can walk to school. When we place budgetary considerations before education and health for our kids, we have sold out to C-COM…the corporate structure always puts money first, and now education has fallen prey to this. This has caused a terrible chain reaction for our kids: they sit on the bus, they sit in school, they come home and sit in front of some screen…where, it happens, they can be ministered to by ads by companies telling them what they ought to go out and buy (C-COM again!). They have no parents home to tell them to eat right and go outside (because they are at work) and now the whole family has fallen under the spell of C-COM.

To be continued…





My Beginning

As this is my first post, I should tell the reader a few things about what I am here for. I am here partly because my daughter suggested I should start a blog. I am very opinionated and am always posting things on facebook that very few people seem to see or enjoy, so I thought maybe more people would get access to these through a blog. I guess a blog is an excuse to complain in public. I have no trouble with that. But I also have good reasons for blogging. I want to educate, not only others but myself, to inspire dialogue, perhaps heighten sensibilities. I see myself as a revolutionary, but one who is limited in what I can do about it. I am very concerned about the state of the Earth right now, and the direction in which our country is going. I hate prejudice, but I am human and we all have ideas about things. I am sure I will offend some people by posting my opinions, but I think it is inevitable if I am to be honest. I hope to inspire love, action, and truth. Sometimes the truth is painful. I will try to be sensitive to this while also being honest and candid. If you know anything about human communication and being real, you will know this is a tall order. I expect to fail. I hope to be forgiven.