Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Addisen and Alexey...

Just a last minute addition...

Horses and little girls... loads of fun. Oh and as promised the next blog really will be 'Volunteering at the Oregon Zoo'


Friday, April 25, 2008

A Horse, Fish and a Pug... Animals and Childhood

Childhood and Animals go hand in hand... When I was growing up in the Bay Area I always dreamed of having a horse for my own. I wanted a Palomino or Stallion. Every year on my birthday until the 6th grade before I blew out the candles on my cake I would wish for a horse. I just knew one day I would have a horse. Then one day... when I was in 6th grade on a Christmas morning my dad said to my sister and I "go out side and check to see whose there". It was a cold day and we weren't quiet sure what our dad was up to but we ran to the front door and when we opened it there was a beautiful Shetland pony. His name was "Rusty" and he was standing on our front porch. It was a great day.

Good ol' Rusty he was a beauty and soon I would come to find out that he also had a temper. One day after my dad had built our corral, shed/barn for our new pony he decided to put a 'big horse' saddle on Rusty and then he told my sister Sabina to get on... of course she refused (some sort of smart girl intuition that apparently I had not acquired) and so my dad told me to get on... so of course I did. Very soon afterwards I found myself flying through the air and landing on my back near the fence of the corral. I was stunned and a bit scared... all Sabina could do is laugh. We didn't have Rusty for long but he was quiet a horse and I did love him.

Anyway, a few years later when I was 15 I decided I wanted some fish and so I got a very large fish tank with about 1/2 a dozen different fish. Unfortunately, within a few weeks I had killed them all by over feeding them...

Now my daughter Alexey wants a pug this summer. I love dogs, so I am thinking I can't wait to get a dog this summer and as long as we don't put a saddle on the it or I am not in charge of the feeding than I think we'll be just fine.

Anyway what is childhood like without Pets. It teaches children responsibility, love, caring, acceptance... and you know the rest. 

Next Blog .... Volunteering at the Oregon Zoo... the animal theme continues...


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Good Times.. Good Times...

Donner Lake, 2002

Idea: Think of a word or a saying that keeps you in the moment, or reminds you of the past, a word that keeps the peace or one that just makes you laugh.

My girls, Alexey and Addisen and I have picked up on a saying that just makes us laugh... 'Good Times... Good Times'... We say this around the house all the time and I like it because even when we're not having good times, I say it anyway. Annoying, yes... but good annoying (there is such a thing) you know.

So here's to past good times... and annoying good times to come


Monday, April 14, 2008

Music, Smarts and Happiness

Music = Smarts: The influence of music on society can be clearly seen from modern history. Music helped Thomas Jefferson (the good looking President) write the Declaration of Independence. When he could not figure out the right wording for a certain part, he would play his violin to help him. The music helped him get the words from his brain onto the paper. Also, in case you didn't know, Albert Einstein is recognized as one of the smartest men who has ever lived. A little known fact about Einstein is that when he was young he did extremely poor in school. His grade school teachers told his parents to take him out of school because he was "too stupid to learn" and it would be a waste of resources for the school to invest time and energy in his education. The school suggested that his parents get Albert an easy, manual labor job as soon as they could. His mother did not think that Albert was "stupid". Instead of following the school's advice, Albert's parents bought him a violin. Albert became good at the violin. Music was the key and even Einstein himself said that the reason he was so smart was because he played the violin. He loved the music of Mozart and Bach the most. Also, not to compare myself with Jefferson or Einstein, but when I was an undergraduate at San Francisco State University I learned that if I listened to classical music right after studying for a test and just prior to taking 'said' test that I would retain the lessons learned easier than with 'traditional' methods of studying and I have to say my grades did improve.

Music = Happiness: What is the relationship between music and happiness? You know that feeling when a song that really 'gets you' is played. There is a beautiful passage in a book called "Home of Gentry", by Ivan Turgenev, where the protagonist of the novel listens to a piece of music being played on the piano that touches him to the very depths of his soul. The power that music has over us is so incredible and so facinating... One great problem that arises in trying to study music's emotional power is that the emotional content of music is very subjective. A piece of music may be undeniably emotionally powerful, and at the same time be experienced in very different ways by each person who hears it. The emotion created by a piece of music may be affected by memories associated with the piece, by the environment it is being played in, by the mood of the person listening and their personality, by the culture they were brought up in: by any number of factors both impossible to control and impossible to quantify.

Happiness to me is anytime... anywhere that I hear Eddie Vedder's voice... I'm definitely happier and maybe even smarter too!

Go... Listen ... Be Happy...


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

King Corn

This documentary is amazing and if you eat corn or want to know a bit more about the corn you eat... go out and rent this movie. Here are some details to get you interested.

King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation.

In King Corn, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat—and how we farm.

Almost everything Americans eat contains corn: high fructose corn syrup, corn-fed meat, and corn-based processed foods are the staples of the modern diet. Ready for an adventure and alarmed by signs of their generation’s bulging waistlines, college friends Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis know where to go to investigate. Eighty years ago, Ian and Curt’s great-grandfathers lived just a few miles apart, in the same rural county in northern Iowa. Now their great-grandsons are returning with a mission: they will plant an acre of corn, follow their harvest into the world, and attempt to understand what they—and all of us—are really made of.

Ian and Curt arrive in the Midwest enthusiastic about their new endeavor. Iowa’s newest farmers lease an acre of land from a skeptical landlord and fill out a pile of paperwork to sign up for subsidies. The government will pay them $28 to grow their acre of corn—the first of many steps that reinforce the idea that more corn is what America needs.

Ian and Curt start the spring by injecting ammonia fertilizer. The chemical promises to increase yields fourfold, fueling the mission of abundance laid out for them. Then it’s planting time, and with a rented tractor, Ian and Curt set 31,000 seeds in the ground in 18 minutes. Their seed has been genetically modified for high yields and herbicide tolerance, and when the seedlings sprout, Ian and Curt apply a powerful spray to ensure that only their corn will thrive on their acre.

But where will all that corn go? Ian and Curt leave Iowa to find out, first considering their crop’s future as feed. In Colorado, rancher Sue Jarrett says her cattle should be eating grass. But with a surplus of corn, it costs less to raise cattle in confinement than to let them roam free: “The mass production of corn drives the mass production of protein in confinement.” Animal nutritionists confirm that corn makes cows sick and beef fatty, but it also lets consumers eat a $1 hamburger. Feedlot owner Bob Bledsoe defends America’s cheap food, but as Ian and Curt see in Colorado, the world behind it can be stomach turning. At one feedlot, 100,000 cows stand shoulder-to-shoulder, doing their part to transform Iowa corn into millions of pounds of fat-streaked beef.

Following the trail of high fructose corn syrup, Ian and Curt hop attempt to make a home-cooked batch of the sweetener in their kitchen. But their investigation of America’s most ubiquitous ingredient turns serious when they follow soda to its consumption in Brooklyn. Here, Type II diabetes is ravaging the community, and America’s addiction to corny sweets is to blame.

The breadth of the problem is now clear: the American food system is built on the abundance of corn, an abundance perpetuated by a subsidy system that pays farmers to maximize production. In a nursing home in the Indiana suburbs, Ian and Curt come face-to-face with Earl Butz, the Nixon-era Agriculture Secretary who invented subsidies. The elderly Butz champions the modern food system as an “Age of plenty” Ian and Curt’s great-grandfathers only dreamed of.

November pulls Ian and Curt back to Iowa. Their 10,000-pound harvest seems as grotesque as it is abundant. They haul their corn to the elevator and look on as it makes its way into a food system they have grown disgusted by. At a somber farm auction, Ian and Curt decide to tell their landlord they want to buy the acre. The next spring their cornfield has been pulled from production and planted in a prairie, a wild square surrounded by a sea of head-high corn.

King Corn was shot over the course of 2004 and 2005. The narrative is rooted in the rural town of Greene, Iowa (pop. 1015), where Ian and Curt grew their acre of corn.

Isn't this great!!!