Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Warning

Here is a general warning to all of you:

Just because you see hairdressers hold the scissors in a certain way, and the ends of your hair between their straightened fingers and how they angle the cut up and even hold the scissors vertically and take upward snips of your hair to create bangs...

Just because you see all of that, does not mean you can replicate that in the home environment. On yourself. 15 minutes before park day.

That is all.

Friday, May 29, 2009

What Kind of Ray?

Gamma ray: Electromagnetic radiation emitted from excited atomic nuclei as an integral part of the process whereby the nucleus rearranges itself into a state of lower excitation (that is, energy content). Sci Tech Encyclopedia


Or, a song by Beck. Enjoy Gamma Ray.

What My Kids are Eating That They Don't Know They're Eating

Avocado hidden within smoothie.

Usually, I make a smoothie with a banana, strawberries, raw honey, raw egg yolk, melted coconut oil, orange juice, yogurt or kefir and a teaspoon of vanilla. The kids love it and I'm able to freeze the purposefully made left overs in plastic popsicle forms. The kids are having a breakfast popsicle right now!

This last time, I slipped in a half an avocado too. Unlike the time I ambitiously put kale in and made sure it was properly liquefied so you couldn't see a speck of green, they have not noticed the additional ingredient. They are happily eating their popsicles without any realization that they are also getting the good stuff from a half avocado that Mom sneakily mixed in.

I am a huge proponent for honesty with children. That sounds ridiculous, but I know lots of parents that aren't. They'd much rather take the easier road of lying, shading, and omission with their kids. Obviously, communication must be age appropriate and children are not our confessors--we don't need to tell them everything. That's a burden for them and unnecessary. But, being passive aggressive, instead of clear and straight forward does them a huge disservice, I think. I don't lie to my kids. When they are upset that the DVD they hoped to watch is not here, I tell them that I put it out into the mail--my bad. When they ask for something, I tell them "no" if the answer is no. Not "maybe", I don't equivocate (unless the answer is maybe, and I'm still thinking about it). I afford my kids the same kind of decency and respect I have for adults. Although, if adults were running around chasing each other with Star Wars light sabers when we were trying to get ready and out the door to go to their tap class, I might raise my voice at them too...

Must I tell my kids every ingredient I use when I cook?! Do I have to share when I put in an extra grinding of pepper or use lemon instead of vinegar in a recipe? I think it's fine to sneak in extra nutrition in ways that don't effect taste. If they don't taste it, it's not affecting their popsicle joy. Who is harmed in this transaction?

I don't do this often because my son's palate is too sensitive. That's a really bad thing these days. It would have been a handy skill to have and he would have avoided poisoning as a cave man, but zucchini is not poison, all grimaces to the contrary.

Query: Can broccoli ever make its way into a cookie? Recipe anyone?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I am Selling Out... Kind of...

I started this blog as a challenge for my family and myself to see if we could live in a simple way and not buy new things. I thought it would be interesting to see if we could live through the limits that The Compact would impose on us. I wondered what we would discover about ourselves and about our neighbors and the typical consumer lifestyle that we are all pressured to live. Would we be able to live a year without buying any things that are new? Would the kids feel out of step with other kids? Would I pine for anything? Would I chafe under the restriction?

My husband makes a good living *knocks on wood* and we have always lived fairly simply, but if I wanted to get a little something from Williams Sonoma I could have. If I felt like getting a Hanna Andersson outfit for my daughter, that was no problem. I ended up not doing that very much, because I ended up not buying very much for any of us, even before The Compact. It was an easy switch to make to just buying used things from Goodwill or the Salvation Army and we found lots of nice, gently used things from Eddie Bauer (for me), and The Gap and every other place I used to shop when the kids were little and I wasn't a bit concerned with them outgrowing their clothing in a 2 month time... That was a little frivolous of me, but the clothes were very cute and 100% cotton. I felt that was important for tender new skin.

I found all sorts of decent clothing that was perfectly good. It didn't matter to my kids, or me or my husband either, if things were a certain brand. The Compact would have been far more difficult if that had been the case, or if we had cared if things were part of a current trend. Trendy, we are not.

So The Compact has continued to be a part of our lifestyle. We have purchased new things and then I have confessed to you all right here on this blog. We've gotten a water heater and a manual lawn mower and shoelaces and goldfish and leotards and props for performances and new toys for the kids at museums and gifts for them at X-mas and at birthdays. We've gotten used things too, but we have not been pure, just very conscious about our purchases. We haven't really been frivolous.

I started this blog as a way of tracking our lifestyle and seeing how we progressed and then realized that if we weren't purchasing new things, I could show you what we were doing instead. If you don't buy it, what in the world do you do? For many people buying is a form of entertainment or even sport--the challenge of finding and then getting the great deal. On one of my April Fool's Day posts I put up a Google AdSense banner and explained that we would now be carrying ads. I wrote:

See the ads over there, at the top of my blog? They pay me to run them here. That's a good thing. Why wouldn't I want to make money here? What would be the possible point of making all of these posts? Really, I don't get it. People only do things for money. That's what makes the world go round. Why would I sit here writing things for no reason? If I'm not getting paid, what's the reason then? I'm not tracking on that, really.

That was a joke. I write here because I feel strongly about many issues and want to share what I know. I write here because I like to write and hope to share something good with others: political outrage, unschooling joy, ways to be healthy with raw milk, kefir, the seminal book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, my hilarious husband... My secret ambition is to be a paid writer somewhere, somehow. It would be ideal if it was on my terms wouldn't it?

I feel like when I grow up, this is what I'll do as an adult. And then I realize that I am grown up and I am a writer, of sorts. So, why not now? What the heck am I waiting for? As my father quoted Hillel to me when I was an emotional teenager, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?" Sage words there.

So you know what? I am going to continue to write here and get money for my writing from having ads!! What?! "But, Laura, what about your whole 'We don't buy it. We're living on The Compact. We think new things are bad. We are holy and pure and think serious thoughts all of the time...' What about that stuff?!" you argue indignantly with me. Ah. I see your confusion and concern. Seems a little hypocritical doesn't it? Well, you are wrong! Wrong I tell you!! Because you know why? I'm going to have ads for stuff I believe in. Ha!

Food. Whole nutritious food! You have to eat, even on The Compact. I am a huge fan of kefir and kombucha, and yogurt, sourdough starter and dried foods that retain their enzymes and... and... and all of the stuff that Cultures for Health sells. So guess what. I am now an affiliate of their site and every sale that they make, linked from here at We Don't Buy It, I get paid for. Hurray!

I will now have some ads here. Also, I may have product giveaways. Have you ever wanted to try and make yogurt, or kefir, or sourdough bread? It can seem like a lot of work and it can seem overwhelming, but it's not if you have easy starters and quality ingredients. Maybe you'd like to try one out. Maybe you'll win a contest and get some for free and then you can.

I will review products too. I'll let you know what I think. (Yeah, that's a new one, because I've always been shy about sharing my opinions, haven't I?) *snort*

I am selling out sort of. But, as it turns out, not really.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Birds Have Flown the Coop, Final Robin Update

This is a long overdue post about the robins that built a nest right on our living room window. The kids and my husband and I have been watching them over the past few weeks and seeing how the chicks were cared for and how they developed.

In my last post, I showed you the nest filled with four eggs:

I know that I saw at least three chicks being fed by both the mom and dad. Finally, I saw that all four had hatched out.

The parents were always around, coming and going to keep their growing brood fed. They were also very protective. I photographed them quite a bit, and I tried to be as unobtrusive as I could. I didn't want to freak out the parents. But, every once in a while, I was just too close for comfort and the mom or dad would try to dive bomb me. They would fly in my general direction any way with a mean look on their face. I can't blame them.

They also repeatedly chased squirrels out of the yard. Squirrels that, to me with my unaware human eyes, didn't seem to be doing anything egregious.

Here, you can see one of the chick's heads peeping out over the edge of the nest. They're still so little a this point.

They were fed constantly. And, when they weren't being fed, they were being sat on and kept warm.

Somehow, all four birds got fed, even with bigger ones trying to get a bigger share. Egalitarian birds, eh? How humane of them...

No!! Don't go!

Feed me, Seymour!

The birds grew with the constant care from the parents.

Look at the downy feathers on the tops of their heads. They're starting to get pin feathers too.

They're a bit bigger here.

At constant watch.

Hi guys!

There's your dad or mom right above you.

Look how big they are! How can you all squeeze into that nest/mud cup?

Notice the orange on the breast.

A few days after I took that photo, we noticed that one of the chicks was gone. And then another, later on the same day. And, by nightfall they had all left the nest. All that remained was an empty nest with some poop...

I took the nest down...

and threw it into the compost bin.

A nice ending to the beautifully constructed nest the robins lovingly built for their brood.

Good luck, little robins! We're glad we knew you when.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Poll on Fake Medical Journals

It recently was exposed that Merck created fake journals in order to quote studies to help their reps sell their products to doctors. It was all bogus. I created a poll to see what people thought the ultimate number of fake journals would be.

In previous polls where maybe people weren't the most inspired to vote their choice, I inflated the results for fun. Always above board, I will once again do that here...

Of the 40,000 people who responded in the recent poll (OK it was 4, but I'm inflating it... for fun... see?), "How Many Fake Journals Produced by Pharmaceutical Companies Will be Exposed?" no one answered 6, 8, 10, 15 or 20. However, 25% or 10,000 of you answered "More Than 20". We don't trust the pharmaceutical companies that much, do we? A whopping 75% or 30,000 of you answered, "30 or more--oh my God have they no sense of decency?"

Time will tell, and it will come out. If there is any more news about this, I will share it. We will see what the total is eventually...

Don't you hate liars?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Instant Karma

Here's an idea to consider from John Lennon. Thanks for the reminder, John...

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead,
What in the world you thinking of,
Laughing in the face of love,
What on earth you tryin' to do,
It's up to you, yeah you.

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna look you right in the face,
Better get yourself together darlin',
Join the human race,
How in the world you gonna see,
Laughin' at fools like me,
Who on earth d'you think you are,
A super star,
Well, right you are.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Well we all shine on,
Ev'ryone come on.

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you off your feet,
Better recognize your brothers,
Ev'ryone you meet,
Why in the world are we here,
Surely not to live in pain and fear,
Why on earth are you there,
When you're ev'rywhere,
Come and get your share.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
Come on and on and on on on,
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah-.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
On and on and on on and on.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Yeah we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.

I Don't Care, But...

Yesterday, the White Sox lost 20-1 to the Minnesota Twins.

I don't care, not really, but you can't have that kind of wash out. That's just too much.

Come on fellas.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cool for Now

We are still mostly not buying it, that is to say, we are still trying to live with The Compact. As I have said before, we mostly still do. We mostly do not buy anything new. My husband buys lumber or screws and nails if he needs them. But, overall, we haven't and still don't buy new things. Which is not to say that we don't buy anything.

Today, for example, I went to our nifty new Salvation Army store and bought the kids a ginormous pile of clothes. They will now have t-shirts and shorts and my daughter will have dresses and both will have jeans without rips in the knees although that is a cool look, I will acknowledge.

I never achieved that look throughout my entire childhood. Firstly, I was in Sears Toughskins... those are not Levi's and you can't achieve any kind of cool look with those no matter how hard you try.

At the time, I had my own idea of what cool looked like so that was OK. I had chipped my front two teeth and had to wear silver caps for a year and a half in first and second grades and I knew, positively knew that I was cool because I could pretend to be Lindsay Wagner in The Bionic Woman. I was the bionic woman with my silver caps. I could cock my head to the side and have my super sonic hearing detect bad guys a mile away, the sun glinting off my silver caps. How much cooler could anyone get? So, Toughskins didn't matter then.

Later on in about 5th grade or so, I desperately wanted to have jeans that had rips in the knees. I finally got Levi's (this was before the Gloria Vanderbilt or Chic madness--that came later), but I was growing so quickly that my jeans never got worn through in the knees. They did become floods almost immediately, however.

It was only as an adult that I finally understood the taunt: "Hey Laura! Can you swim?" and then there would be uproarious laughter. "Of course I can swim!!", I'd angrily retort. Well, kids were asking me that because I was wearing floods--get it? Ah. I see. I think I was an easy target in a lot of ways. I don't think I got the nuanced communication that occurs on the playground.

Any way, today I got all sorts of clothes for the kids. Just as I didn't, my kids don't really understand "cool" either except through their own filters. They have very little brand recognition. They have some, but they're more likely to think something is cool because of its color or what its made of, than because it's part of a giant merchandising juggernaut like Hannah Montana or Disney or even Abercrombie and Fitch.

My kids don't really have a uniform. They don't know they must wear this or that to be cool. They know they are cool because my son can do a headstand for minutes on end and my daughter can adopt a spot on English accent.

It's not The Bionic Woman, but what could be cooler than that these days?

Compost Happens

Yesterday, I turned the contents of our newly constructed compost bin (by the way, thanks son, daughter, and helping husband). I took a pitch fork and brought the wet, moldering, brown leaves from the bottom and turned them over the freshly cut grass that my husband had earlier dumped into the bin. I saw some of the food scraps that hadn't broken down completely yet--sweet potato ends and onion skins and banana peels. But, I can also see that the process has started.

There are worms everywhere--they're loving it.

I know, at some point, that the internal temperature of the pile is supposed to heat up and it can even smoke. It will be cooking, but it's not quite there yet.

Do you compost? Where do you put your compost once it's sweet and ripe? Do you turn it often, or do you just let it slowly melt down, doing its own thing?

I am a bit awed that I can just throw any vegetable matter into a bin and will get a loamy dirt after a few months. To me, that is simply amazing.

Do you know The Weavers? They were a folk group that included Pete Seger and other fabulous signers. These were the kind of singers who have voices like bells; just beautiful to hear their harmony.

Lee Hayes, one of The Weavers, kept a compost bin. And, upon his death, his ashes were scattered on it and mixed in, just as he wished. I think that truly expresses the idea of dust to dust; ashes to ashes. We all melt into the earth when we go. What a great compost pile. What a nice way to become part of the garden he loved.

Here are The Weavers singing, Irene Goodnight.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What's Your Philosophy?

How do you order your life? Do you just drift through? Do you have a set of rules that you live by that are dictated by your faith? Do you see yourself as part of something greater? Or do you see yourself as a mere mote floating through the infinite space of the universe? Is it all some cosmic game, or is it preordained and proscribed from on high?

Do you believe in fate? Are some things meant to be? Why? Are you a marionette with strings pulled from somewhere out of the frame?

Is it just about you? Did Atlas shrug?

What do you think?

Some radical unschoolers frame their relationships with their kids in the light of death. Do you really want to argue about penmanship when your child could be dead tomorrow? Or you? Does that make the time we spend together meaningful? Life is just a blip--phst--it's gone.

I know a man who lost his dad this last Tuesday. His dad died as he wanted, at home, and after having last visits with his family. This same grieving man came home, after visiting with his father, and on Thursday was laid off after having been assured for months by his boss that he was safe. When he finishes up his work in the middle of June, he will have been with the company for ten years.

Was that fate?

Do you believe, as I do, that the universe and all that is in it is beautiful and amazing and it's perfectly OK to not know why or how it all came to be? But what about the stuff that's not beautiful?

Do you feel in any way obligated as a passenger on Earth to try and make it better somehow? Do you feel, as you walk around all day, connected to everybody and everything, or do you have to get the laundry done?

Here's a Zen proverb:

Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.

That's about right, isn't it? You have to keep on keeping on, because that is a function of being alive.

What's your philosophy?

Let's hear Miss Sally Brown as she sings about her new philosophy, and then maybe you can tell me about yours.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Last Night, Today

If I knew how to frug, I would do it to this song, 'cause it would fit--that's why.

Last Night, by the Strokes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Update on Robins: II

I looked in the nest many, many days ago. First, I saw one egg. And then, two days later I saw two eggs. Several days after that, I saw four eggs.

At least three of these eggs have now hatched, and the parents are trading off feeding them. The male flies to the nest with food hanging from his mouth, and the female leaps out of the nest to go look for food.

Round and round they go--seemingly non-stop in their effort to nourish their young. I can empathize...

They're good parents and very protective. Today, I saw the mama chase a squirrel through the fence and into the neighbor's yard. The squirrel hadn't done anything wrong, but maybe the mama could detect a certain nefariousness in the squirrel's countenance that my human eyes are too dull to pick up on. Or, she's just making sure. Either way, don't mess with this robin family.

More to come soon...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha--Good One!

Those Nigerians are a stitch, aren't they? Look at the e-mail I just got:


I, am Chief Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri (AIG rtd.) Economic And Financial Crime
, A committee set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria under the
able President Yar\'Adua.The purpose of the committee among other is to
investigate,verify and settle all outstanding debts owned to foreign
contractors whose payment is overdue.Consequently.

we received a directive from the office of the president, ordering the above
office to settle all genuine contractors whose debts has been outstanding for
a long time now.and for those that shown sufficient proof regarding the
release of their fund,And we wish to inform you that in our record here, you
have fulfilled such conditions as the rightful beneficiary of the said
$7.5Million Dollars as part payment of your fund. But the reasons why your own
Transfer has been delayed is because, there is presently a counter claims on
your funds by one MR.JOHN TSAI, who is presently trying to make us believe
that you are dead and even explained that you entered into an agreementwith
him, to help you in receiving your fund, So here comes the big question.

Did you sign any Deed of Assignment in favor of (MR.JOHN TSAI). there by
making him the current beneficiary with his following account details:

AC/NUMBER: 6503809428.

Please if you did not sign, or authorize MR.JOHN TSAI to receive your payment
on your behalf, kindly reconfirm to us, for your urgent release the Premium
immediately, Please Reconfirm your genuine ADDRESS (information) ! your bank
information were you want this payment to be transfered including your phone
number for verification Or call us, to avoid making payment to a wrong person,
attempt to divert your payment to a new account without your knowledge.

This office is glad to inform you that your payment shall be made as soon as
we receive your feedback of claim/release today.We are sorry to inform you
that then Federal Government had made it clear to all foreign contractors
whose payment is overdue to be paid immediately hence all the modality
relating to the release of your contract fund had been completed today.You are
advised to stop any further communication with any department Or any
Government parastatal. This is to forestall new effort towards a diversion of
your payment. We wait your concern and action of claim to this regards. Reply
to this email address ( )

Best Regards

EFCC...Serving You;
EFCC Executive Chairman,
Chief Mrs. Farida Mzamber Waziri (AIG rtd)
Email ( )

Hello, my name is Laura. My name is not, Mrs. Gullible-Sucker-Greedy-Stupid-Pliable-Naif,
but thanks for the laugh.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Beauty at My Feet

All I have to do is look down:



Dandelion puff...

Dandelion puff shedding seeds to make more dandelions...

Hosta, because I live in the suburbs and it's a law...

Vinca or Periwinkle

Fern. The heads are already uncurled.

Lily of the Valley--their perfume is strong and lovely.


What do you see where you are? What is in bloom at your feet? What will come into bloom soon?

Monday, May 11, 2009


It recently came to light that Merck put out a fake journal published by a well known and reputable publisher, so that they could quote articles from it and help sell their products to doctors. The journal was a sham, full of concocted, made up stories.

It turns out now, that there were six bogus journals, not one. What a bunch of liars. Do the pharmaceutical companies still have credibility with anyone?

I wonder what the total fake journal count will end up being. There's sure to be more. Venture a guess, if you'd like, in the poll at the left.

Read this (you have to register to The Scientist to read the story... or, read below):

Posted by Bob Grant
[Entry posted at 7th May 2009 04:27 PM GMT]

Scientific publishing giant Elsevier put out a total of six publications between 2000 and 2005 that were sponsored by unnamed pharmaceutical companies and looked like peer reviewed medical journals, but did not disclose sponsorship, the company has admitted.

Elsevier is conducting an "internal review" of its publishing practices after allegations came to light that the company produced a pharmaceutical company-funded publication in the early 2000s without disclosing that the "journal" was corporate sponsored.

Image: flicker/meviola
The allegations involve the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, a publication paid for by pharmaceutical company Merck that amounted to a compendium of reprinted scientific articles and one-source reviews, most of which presented data favorable to Merck's products. The Scientist obtained two 2003 issues of the journal -- which bore the imprint of Elsevier's Excerpta Medica -- neither of which carried a statement obviating Merck's sponsorship of the publication.

An Elsevier spokesperson told The Scientist in an email that a total of six titles in a "series of sponsored article publications" were put out by their Australia office and bore the Excerpta Medica imprint from 2000 to 2005. These titles were: the Australasian Journal of General Practice, the Australasian Journal of Neurology, the Australasian Journal of Cardiology, the Australasian Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, the Australasian Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine, and the Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint [Medicine]. Elsevier declined to provide the names of the sponsors of these titles, according to the company spokesperson.

"It has recently come to my attention that from 2000 to 2005, our Australia office published a series of sponsored article compilation publications, on behalf of pharmaceutical clients, that were made to look like journals and lacked the proper disclosures," said Michael Hansen, CEO of Elsevier's Health Sciences Division, in a statement issued by the company. "This was an unacceptable practice, and we regret that it took place."

When confronted with the questionable publishing practices surrounding theAustralasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine last week, Elsevier indicated that it had no plans of looking into the matter further, but that decision has apparently been reversed.

"We are currently conducting an internal review but believe this was an isolated practice from a past period in time," Hansen continued in the Elsevier statement. "It does not reflect the way we operate today. The individuals involved in the project have long since left the company. I have affirmed our business practices as they relate to what defines a journal and the proper use of disclosure language with our employees to ensure this does not happen again."

"I understand this issue has troubled our communities of authors, editors, customers and employees," Hansen added in the statement. "But I can assure all that the integrity of Elsevier's publications and business practices remains intact."

Correction (May 7): The headline and original version of this story incorrectly indicated that Elsevier had produced seven titles in their "series of sponsored article publications" when in fact the publisher produced only six. The Scientist regrets the error.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hey, Dick Cheney--Yeah You!!

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

You can't get out of the fact that you were one of the chief architects of torture. Or, to rephrase it in your language, enhanced interrogation technique.

If there are any prosecutions, and by God there should be, you are at the top of the list.

So, STFU right now.

(Sorry to speak in such blunt terms on Mother's Day...)

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Perpetuum Mobile

My husband turned me onto Penguin Cafe Orchestra years ago--before some of their music made its way into commercials. I like it still, even though it now is associated with selling certain things.

Enjoy Perpetuum Mobile here, and don't think of anything else... well, don't think of products being sold... unless you want to. You do what you want--no pressure.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Sister

Two Sisters by Auguste Renoir

I recently went up to visit my parents over a weekend with my kids while my husband stayed home and painted our bedroom! It turned out great. No, I did not even try to find partially used paint on Freecycle. I didn't ask if anyone had an old bucket of paint to give me. I just charged out and bought some green paint and my husband just swished it up on the walls. The Compact be damned in this case.

While I was in Madison, I saw my sister and her husband. We had a good visit.

My sister has had some hard times, and who hasn't, but I would say that she has weathered some tougher storms than a lot of people will ever face. She keeps on keeping on and it is admirable how she reaches out to life. She tries in the face of great pain to find ways to be happy and fulfilled.

One of the recent explorations has been guitar lessons. She has calluses on her finger tips ("I've got blisters on me fingers!!") from practicing so much.

She has also found the uncanny ability to make a song out of anything. Yes, it may sound a bit like Phoebe Buffet (Buffay?) from Friends or Woody's song "Kelly, Kelly, Kelly" from Cheers, but it is also so hilarious when she adds a dischordant chord to express some of the angst of missing the commuter train.

I wish I could record it and share it with you here. Suffice it to say, my sister had me absolutely rolling with laughter as tears squeezed out of my eyes. Don't you love it when you can have that kind of guffaw with your friends or family? I love my sister and loved our recent visit together.

In honor of her new guitar playing abilities, which are extensive for such a short time learning, here's a Phoebe song, just for fun.

That was Phoebe teaching Chrissie Hynde Smelly Cat.

And here's a Chrissie Hynde song for you D.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Where Can I Turn to get Unbiased Information??

Where can I go to get unbiased information? If I want to see some scientific, peer reviewed information I could go to a respected scientific journal, right? Maybe I could look something up in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association). I would be angry about its inherent mainstream bias--not looking very intently at things like nutrition, or toxins, etc. But, maybe I could see studies that show numbers about various health issues that I could accept.

I could also look at The Lancet which is a weekly medical journal published by a huge global publisher, Reed Elsevier. Doctors would know of these journals. They would also know of this publisher. It would have a good rep for them.

What if a pharmaceutical company wanted to have its own medical journal--not really peer reviewed there, but it would look reputable? What if they got it published through Reed Elsevier to lend credence and to give their reps the ability to quote published studies to doctors and therefore help them sell their drugs and products more easily to the doctors? The doctors might fall for that, if it seemed real.

"Preposterous!", you say? "That's just conspiracy thinking run amok!", you continue. "No pharmaceutical company would be so unscrupulous as to lie to doctors to get their products sold. No pharmaceutical company would place the emphasis on the bottom line rather than on good science and the welfare of potential patients. That's just crazy! Why, if that were the case, we might have to begin to question everything they do! They would have no credibility! None!!", you go on indignantly defending the pharmaceutical companies, getting progressively incensed with me.

Let's all take a breath, shall we. In, 2, 3, 4, and out, 2, 3, 4, 5 ,6, 7, 8... do it again... OK. Feel better? Now I understand how you worship at the alter of mainstream medicine and it's upsetting to begin to see fissures in the fortress, but take a look with me:

"Merck Makes Phony Peer-Review Journal" as written up in the bioethics blog of The Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy of Loyola School of Medicine.

Read it and then tell me what you think.

What size for your foil hat?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Again, Why There are Two Parents...

My husband and I bring different things to the parenting table. Some of that is just because of who we are--our different abilities, sensibilities and approach to our kids. Some of it is because of gender differences (yes, I said that...) But, some of those gender differences are there because of how we ourselves were parented, and the time we came from. (I must share here that my parents were pretty good about raising us to realize whatever we wanted to do regardless of gender. I portaged canoes, my brother made lasagna, etc.)

My husband will build an 8 ft. trebuchet with my son in the summer. That would never in a million years occur to me to do. Never. However, I did build our kids' wooden swing set with my husband's guidance and help when he had carpal tunnel syndrome and could not do drilling and hammering... or so the story goes...

My husband would cut the pieces to length and then tell me how to put them together and hammer them or drill or sink or counter sink--220, 221 whatever it takes.

In any case, he and I built a pretty fine swing set for the kids. That particular project was also the first time I had ever handled a drill. I don't think that's so rare, but it seemed flagrantly ludicrous to my husband. My husband, who had once coached me on how to change my own damn tire and be my own knight in shining armor. You know why? Because, I could, that's why.

I think he feels that everyone should be able to do everything. Handling a drill is not just for men or boys. We are not crippled by past ideas--we can do what we want. We have brains and hands and our gender doesn't preclude us doing certain things.

My son helped my husband build our compost bin, and then my husband thought my daughter should help as well. He asked her if she'd like to, and she was wanting to help too. Take a look at these pictures of my daughter helping my husband build our compost bin.

Here she is drilling holes. Maybe not the best way to hold a drill, but she has control, so that's what counts.

At a slightly different position...

Putting some giddyap on it...

Eyeballing the position...

In total control...

I would never think to let my little girl handle a heavy drill. Never. My husband told her what to do and then stepped back, and worked on something else while she did it. He didn't hover. He just let her go.

I, on the other hand, saw the great photo opportunity and tore into the house to get my camera to take pictures of her from across the yard. I was impressed by her drilling ability and her fearlessness.

Do you need a picture hung? I've got two kids that can handle the job.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our Duty to the Earth

Robert M. La Follette, aka Fighting Bob


This globe is the capital stock of the race. It has just so much coal and oil and gas. These may be economized or wasted. Our water resources are immense, and we are only just beginning to use them. Our forests have been destroyed; they must be restored. Our soils are being depleted; they must be built up and conserved.

These questions are not of this day only, or of this generation. They belong to all the future.

These are the words of Robert M. La Follette, a progressive governor of Wisconsin, among other things, who said them in--get this--March 13, 1909!!

He was right in his concern, and these certainly are the questions of the day now.

He said that in 1909. What if his words would have been heeded? How much less pollution and more resources would we have now?


But, we won't listen, because that's not our nature entirely. We sometimes listen, but then our own daily concerns get in the way, so we push important ideas to the back.

If you would like to read more interesting ideas and thoughtful observations, check out the April issue of The Progressive. It is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the magazine which was started in 1909. This issue is laid out year by year and highlights what the concerns were and what the issues were. It is striking that a lot of the same problems keep repeating year after year--injustice, unfair labor practices, fraud, war mongering, pollution.

Do we ever learn?

On the other hand, it also shows how all of the bad stuff always gets exposed and is fought against. The bad guys can't hide forever. We'll get them in the end. Take heart.

Some people now are cast in the same mold as Fighting Bob--there are progressives in every era. The trick is to keep exposing the bad and work for the good. Easy peasy.

There. Done and done. That should do it! *claps hands together for a job well done*

Oh, if it were only that easy...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Don't Ask my Husband for Ideas...

Last night I asked my husband what song he'd like to hear/see on youtube. Because I appreciate his wide range of sensibilities, he could probably offer up a really interesting song for me to post for you all here.

"Honey, what song would you like to hear on youtube?", I innocently asked.

"Chipmunks. Something Chipmunks and Christmasy.", he nonchalantly replied.


I offer up this instead. Have a primal weekend.

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