Monthly Archives: June 2010

HST? May Be Your Friend

It may be your friend, but not mine. I’m listening to BC’s Minister Colin Hansen giving a good impression of double-speak right now on the radio. When one woman asked him exactly how she was going to save if the industries like mining were for the HST he said how much savings would be passed on to other businesses. Wow. So that’s how that woman is going to save. Just like we all saved and saw prices drop when the GST was put in. Nope. We didn’t.

He likes to say that they’re removing the PST (7%) and putting on the HST (12%), and tries to make it sound like they’re doing us a favor. Food that is now exempt from GST will continue to be but he doesn’t say that food now being taxed (cookies, chips, chocolate bars; those items considered “luxury” items and therefore not for the poor to afford) will now have 12% instead of 5%. A $1 chocolate bar would have cost you $1.05 but will now cost $1.12. Not much but when you start adding up other items it will get costly.

Like buying a new home. Like going to the gym. I now will have to pay both GST and PST (oops sorry, that means I’m only paying HST not two taxes but it equals two taxes) to go to the no-frills community gym.

For restaurants, the minister said a provincial consumption tax is charged in other restaurants but BC and Saskatchewan. So, what does this mean? We’re not being taxed enough so should get more taxes and that justifies the HST. When the GST came in it was supposed to cancel all those other taxes but there has always been the alcohol tax at 10% on your restaurant bill, plus that 7% PST. Or was it GST. Has anyone been able to track how many ways our government taxes us?

The provincial government that Hansen represents plans to be generous now with that new HST coming in onto the  restaurants. They’re so generous they’re lowering the alcohol tax from 10% to 7%; and don’t forget you’ll not be paying 5% on food now but 12%. Plus it’s unclear if we’re paying 12% on alcohol plus 7%. If so, that nearly 20% on top of the cost of alcohol. But let’s say it’s just the one tax on booze and the one super, mega lumped together tax on food. What we have is 12% plus 7% so it’s still 19% plus 15% tips added so you’re looking at a minimum of 34% on top of your dinner, making a bill of $50 going to cost you $17 for a total of $67. But that’s only if taxes aren’t doubled on the booze. If it is, then we’re looking at 19% tax on booze, plus 15% tax on food plus 15% tip on all of that. I wonder how many people are walking around with accountants in their pockets so that they can figure out how much they ow on a bill.

Though Hansen claimed it will affect very few things, and somehow could not name how we would have any savings, he did say that about 25% of British Columbians will get HST cheques that will equal what, $30 per person? I think? I hope I misheard because it will cost more than that in a couple of months. So that’s the low and “some” middle income people, as he said. But not everyone, not most of us.

Consider that every year we have to calculate our income tax and it’s taken off  of our paychecks so most people pay between 20-30% taxes on what they make. But that’s not enough so now we get to pay at least another 15% tax on things we buy. How will this immediately affect you and me? Good question. The government and Colin Hansen have couched so much in doublespeak that it’s not clear. But I can tell you that I’ll be hit the next time I buy a gym pass, when I go to a restaurant, should I buy a cake or a pie, or a new home. Will liquor in liquor stores go down if the alcohol tax is being lowered? I’m kind of doubting it.

I’d love to hear how we will save so much money. When did a tax ever give the working person more money? And I would love to know how they see this as generating new jobs, except for those counting the coffers for the government. And this coming from a government that hasn’t raised the minimum wage in 9 years, and has one of the lowest in the country.

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Insanity Has Invaded My Life

You’d think I was on holidays without posting for a week but with work being overly busy, some extra projects and a party, I just didn’t have time to write.

Last night (now a week ago) I decided to start a bit of the Great Purge. You know, when you have been hanging on to things because of some sentimental reason; you’ll fit those jeans again, you liked that person’s poem, you might get back into that career, you haven’t filed these papers in soooo long, you just had to have that collection, etc. The aspects of life that make up the Great Clutter. For many people we stop at this.

My genes are set toward the pack rat, the clutterer, the collector, the hoarder. My mother is a collector and pack rat; my sister tends more towards the hoarder. The difference is organization and if garbage is involved. Maybe in the long run there isn’t a lot of difference. I have a lot of stuff; ornaments, arts, jewelery, books, papers. The latter two are part of being a writer. I keep these books for reference; I keep copies of stories, poems, articles in hard copy because of the possibility of computer meltdown. I keep all publicity items: reviews, newspaper articles, fliers for readings, photos, newsletters that mention an award or something that was published, rejection and acceptance letters (the last two are partially for income tax purposes).

It adds up after a while. Then there are all those hobbies I do: jewelery making, belly dance, sewing, medievalism, calligraphy, etc. etc. And before I know it, every bookcase is full, carefully arranged, but with books on top of books; my closet is full of costumes and fabric, my shelves are full of beads.

I live in a space big enough to fit two comfortably, or if I lived 200 hundred years ago, or in parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, big enough for a family. In North America we do tend to expand to fit the space. Bigger cars, more junk food and higher obesity, more space, more stuff. My stuff isn’t like some people’s stuff. I have had friends where every piece of wall and every surface in their places were completely covered with stuff. This wasn’t junk piled helter skelter. There were ornaments, collectibles, memorabilia, books, records, things, arranged neatly and dusted at least twice a year. Compared to these friends I’m positively zen, and I dust four times a year. Of course there are my zen friends who think my place is a bit…full.

Like many North Americans, I seem to live at a hectic pace of working and then doing other things in my free time, from taking classes to pursuing other hobbies, to of course, writing. Many of these activities would take up significant time, and still allow time for socializing. All of them together means I’m often up late, flitting from project to project with many things in the works for a long time, and usually sleep deprived.

So though my shelves and closest are neatly stacked there are pockets that I haven’t got to in year. The preliminary purge cleaned out a box (the size that paper for photocopiers come in) of books that I sold to a second-hand bookstore, and another box of magazines that will probably go to the garbage. Omni, Scientific American, Wired, some that I kept for reference but there is just so much. And if you look at my shelves there is still no space on them. I have a pile on my floor of other items and clothing to donate to charity and still there is a lot. So the Great Purge will have me go room from room and sift through the last ten years of items that made my life. My den is the smallest room and yet the most densely packed so it will take the longest but I’m determined to whittle. This will be a several month project I think but in the end hopefully I’ll have more space to do what I really want. I have a two-drawer filing cabinet in which I have no idea what papers lurk. I store my rejection and acceptance slips but weed them every five years but I don’t know what’s taking up the other 2/3 of the cabinet.

Perhaps in the weeks to come I’ll write about my expedition into the strata of my life. Like an archeologist/anthropologist I will come across items from my past that will see ludicrous or profound. And maybe just maybe I’ll rediscover some buried treasures.

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The Cornucopia List: June 18

I think I missed my list last week of five things for which I’m grateful. I hit a really busy period so I’ll just list five things for the last two weeks.

  1. Pastoral Foothills–I drove to Osoyoos last weekend, a very dry part of BC, and even drier in Oliver where the large mudslide happened. BC is mostly the Rocky Mountain range from the coast to the border so much of our towns and cities are situated near mountains or in rolling hills. Osoyoos and area is rolling, humped hills, in shades of green with small copses of trees and a smattering of cows and horses. With the fluffy clouds overhead, interspersed with hot sun, it gave a dappled pattern to the earth. Truly beautiful.
  2. Happy People–Of course we’re not often grateful for the grumps but being around people last weekend just taking it easy, mingling, chatting and drinking made me realize I’d missed many of them.
  3. Illumination–I’m not talking about the light that shines from the sky or from electronic bulbs. I’m talking medieval manuscripts and the illuminated borders and capitals. The “illumination” in a scroll or manuscript was the laying down of gold leaf, which gave the piece  a certain brilliance especially in those tallow candle times. Those old pages, worked on painstakingly by monks for days and weeks on end can be truly astounding. I know people who do this and I have done such illuminations in the past though my skills pale next to what I can see some people do. In fact, some of them might have been seen as blessed by God in the good ole days. This illumination was taken from the Fitzwilliam Museum’s site: http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/
  4. Estate Wineries–I really want to do a wine tour through the Okanagan, but when I have enough money to actually buy some of the wines. We did stop at the Forbidden Fruit winery on the way back from Osoyoos as we didn’t have a lot of time. They had some ice wines (for $20 it’s much cheaper than you can get in the liquor store), a couple of ports, and one or two white and red wines. I bought a bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Plumiliscious ice wine (sort of an ice wine I think). They had about eight different types with cherry, apricot, apple, plum, white grape, peach etc. Maybe later this summer…
  5. Genealogy–It’s interesting and fascinating to see where our roots lead. My aunt, who passed away recently, had tracked one side of the family tree, the part I knew least about. I knew there was Danish and Italian in our family but I didn’t know about the Norwegian, a line that can be tracked back at least to the 1600s. My ancestors were part of Rovang Gaard, being the Rovang farm families. Good ole peasant stock, no special people except for everyone being special in their own way. I look at the branchings, all the surnames and all the people in those families and think about track the other three branches and how they  would branch and branch all the way back to the first awareness of self. It’s truly possible that we’re all related to half the world. When thinking about it this way it’s even more bizarre to think you could hate or be racist against part of your own family but then families don’t always get along, do they? Still, I’m fascinated by the names.

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The Wacky World of Bras

Statistics are showing that women shop for lingerie (bras, panties, etc.) more than any other type of clothes and at least five times a year. So much so that Mark’s (once Mark’s Work Wearhouse) plans to add lingerie to their line so that they can draw more women into their stores. And to guys bras and bra buying are a mystery.

Some young men work on their technique of undoing a bra one handed and others are befuddled by the fasteners, especially if they’re front fastening. Maybe this is why so many guys go into engineering. Of all garments of clothing a brassiere is the only piece that a man doesn’t wear or have an equivalent garment. Even skirts are simulated in kilts and Uitilikilts. As well a skirt covers the same part of the torso as shorts or pants, and a shirt or blouse cover the upper torso but men don’t wear bras…usually.

So this piece of apparel and women’s propensity for it is hard to fathom for many men. As one male friend told me, “I buy ten pairs of socks and ten pairs of underwear all the same and when they wear out I get more. But women may have from one to twenty bras and matching underwear. Because of the way our tops, blouses and shirts fit with scoops, V-necks, boat necks, square, low or high, it means that sometimes the bra might show and if the color blends it’s better. And if you’re wearing a form-fitting top you don’t want the stippling or seams to show through so you need a smooth cup but if you want something a little sexy (the only aspect of a bra that men might truly understand), you might want lace or ruffled edges.

Then there are sports bras, ones that will hold everything in place when you’re jogging, and strapless bras so you still have support and form even under an evening gown without the gauchness of showing the straps, or bras with crossed straps or thin straps for various styles of top. There are molded bras and ones with removable padding (especially helpful should a woman have breasts of uneven size and we all do to some extent). There are push-up bras and unlined bras, super support for the big busted gals and demi bras for those low-cut tops. So, it makes sense that in fact women don’t just have five white bras but a host of colors and styles and materials.

The opposite side is the women that do only have one or two bras that are older than their college aged children. The purpose of a brassiere is support and cover, as well as fashion and shaping. When I’m at the gym there are often these middle aged to elderly women wearing bras that sag more than their breasts. At that point, they may as well toss them. Their bathing suits often match in the baggy  department. It defeats the purpose on all fronts of having a bra if it’s old and doesn’t fit.

Bras are probably one of the most synthetic pieces of clothing that we wear. There are cotton bras but they’re often padded with something synthetic. You can get shirts, pants, skirts and dresses that are all natural fibers but you’ll be hard pressed to find a bra that is and they have all the forms to shape us and make us more than we are. And as it turns out, 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size; usually too large a band size (the strap that encircles you) and too small a cup size. I can say from experience that I was doing the same thing.

Part of the problem is, as Wikipedia lays it out, there is no standardization between one brand and another nor on how they size bras. Some companies just add 4 or 5  inches to the band size to make the cup size. Some pad their numbers so that women think they’re buying a smaller band size. The bras of yesteryear, from the 50s and 60s were holdovers from the war era when rubber (and therefore elastic) was rationed. The bras didn’t fit that well. Torpedo bras rarely matched the human form. Sure the nipple might be pointed, sort of, but we don’t tend to have cone-shaped breasts.

With more elastic, polyester and other synthetic materials, bras took on many shapes with pad, water filled pouches and other ways to enhance the female form. Where Playtex bras of the 60s advertised “lift and separate” today’s bras are all about push together and up. Of course our shapes have changed, not because we’re evolving but because we’re having silicon and water and other odd chemicals injected or implanted into our bodies. Breasts are not torpedo cones, nor are they a melon cut in half and placed on the chest.

So, if men are baffled by women’s bras, considered that women have man shapes and sizes of breasts. Some are perky, some flattened by offspring sucking the dry, some lopsided, some full, some pendulous. And breasts change as we age, as we gain or lose weight, as we exercise and during the month. I tend to have different sizes/types depending on whether I’m ovulating or not. As long as bra sizes tend to be arbitrary wish fulfillment on the part of manufacturers women will continue to shop for lingerie most of all, because it really is a guessing game on finding the right fit.

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Procter & Gamble and the Man in the Moon

The original Procter & Gamble logo.

Once upon a time two men, William Procter and James Gamble, formed a business. It’s genesis began in 1837 with the sale of candles and soap. The US was in a financial crisis and was rumored to be broke but the men persevered with what would have been essentials at that time. Electricity was still in the future.

Dock hands, handling shipments of the candles, would mark the boxes with a crude star to differentiate them from other merchandise. It seems this mark bloomed into the Star Candles brand and eventually the stars appeared in a semi-official capacity as the company grew (or maybe they marked the Star Candles boxes with a crude star). By 1859 the company was making a million dollars, a quite substantial amount for those days.

As Procter & Gamble grew the stars on the candle boxes solidified and a logo was born in 1851, with thirteen stars and a man in the moon with luxuriant curling beard. If you know anything of the art styles of the period, you will understand that this logo, shown above, was as precursor to the stylized, swooping swirls of the Art Nouveau period. Part of the Romantic period in art, the design is not unusual for the time in style. My guess (as it’s hard to find out what the founders originally intended) is that the stars played significantly in the company’s brand evolution. From those stars, they became stylized and it’s said that there are 13 to represent the 13 original colonies of the United States.

Procter & Gamble, Satanic symbols, logos, branding

The new P&G logo.

Considering that Procter & Gamble supplied soap and candles to the Union army during the Civil War, it seems likely that they had some form of patriotism and pride for their roots in the United States. Shortly after this, they began making Ivory soap, among many other products. The logo was a longstanding icon for Procter & Gamble, and if you have ever used Crest, Crisco, Downy, Bounce, Charmin, Duracell, Gillette, Olay, Pampers, Tide or a host of other products, then chances are you might have noticed the little man in the moon with the stars on the back of the packaging. In fact, today Procter & Gambler (more commonly called P&G now as we’ve reached the age of abbreviation and acronyms) is the 6th most profitable corporation in the world and 5th in the US with only a few like Exxon, Microsoft, Apple and Walmart ahead of it.

Consider that this logo existed from the 1850s to to the 1980s before some latent ruckus arose. And what was it in the era that spawned supposed Satanic messages in rock n roll records played backwards that got people up in arms over Procter & Gamble? The stars numbered 13. Good lord! It’s the devil’s number and if you reverse the beard you see 666 and if you get drunk and draw lines from one star to the next you see more sixes. It’s more bizarre that the US dollar bills have an eye in a pyramid (Masonic ties and there’s a secret society there) than the man in the moon and the 13 stars.

But rumors spread and Procter & Gamble battled defamation and slander suits for many years. Interestingly, most of these rumors of the Satanic relationship stemmed from Amway distributors, who in fact have been accused of having cultlike activities, running pyramid schemes and being tied closely with the very conservative far Christian right. Now who seems more likely to have suspicious dealings?

Personally I find this logo has personality as opposed to modern and very sterile logos, including the new P&G logo. Branding is a powerful thing. Procter & Gamble had been in business far too long with their logo to bow to a bunch of superstitious nut jobs wanting to tarnish their image. Probably Amway’s true reason was to knock down P&G’s position in the corporate hierarchy. It might have made a dint but not that much and Amway, though powerful, has had to ride more waves of trouble than P&G. Unlike Starbucks who seemed to bow to public pressure (of a few) and kept changing their logo, P&G did not, until they hit an era of modernization. Did the logo changes or stasis affect these companies? Probably not much because they both have very strong products that hold up against the people with too much time on their hands.

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The Papacy and the Penis

Christianity isn’t the only religion to have relegated women to the back rows and lesser positions in the church (if any) but Catholicism definitely rates high on the list of religious groups that discriminate against women. All those religions who begin with Adam and Eve see the world in a certain light. As the Genesis story goes, Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The other tree was the tree of life. Eve made the choice and then convinced Adam to take a bite.

Pope Joan, women in the church, Catholicism

Pope Joan was obliterated from the Vatican’s history. Wikimedia commons.

And so, through time it’s the woman’s fault for the fact that the man was weak, couldn’t make his own decision, followed in her footsteps and has never ever lived it down? Interestingly, humanity’s “flaw” was originally that Eve chose to know about good and evil, to be self-aware, that had them kicked out of a never-changing (and possibly boring) paradise. After all, we must never forget that although God made us in its/his/her own image, humanity was also given the ability to choose, not obey mindlessly.

The original sin, therefore was choosing to know. But Christianity was spawned out of Judaism and older religions and a time when women were already considered the lesser being of the race by some cultures. As it developed from a cultic following into a religion the church fathers slowly puffing up on their own importance until they ruled over kings and ordained what was to be with the mortal soul. They also put women in their place.  Whether this was because of some repressed homosexuality or woman hating or weird issues of control, we’ll never know for sure. It seems at least that St. Peter was very jealous of Mary Magdalene and didn’t like women.

By the fourth and fifth centuries Christianity was much more theologized, philosophized and codified. There were women priests and deacons but the tides were turning against them. Part of the reason was that church doctrine, run more and more only by men said that the original sin and the downfall of “man” was not seeking knowledge, but was Eve’s fault and that that original sin was sex. Yes, sex, something that is part of almost all species  in the continuation of a race. But it was slowly relegated to stricter and stricter guidelines as the Church sought to control people and gain wealth. No sex on Sundays, no sex on feast days, sex only after dark, no fun sex, sex only for propagation because the more you had sex the farther you were from being a perfect being. Of course if the church succeeded 100% with having everyone abstain from sex (a somewhat unnatural form for any living being) then they would have been so good the human race would have ceased to exist. Would that make Christianity nihilistic?

In the highly male dominated church world, where woman were the seductresses and whores, the sensual and lascivious, the emotional and the simple, there came a secret that the Catholic church has tried to hide ever since but there is enough evidence that it truly happened. People lived in a world dominated by the penis, whether the mace carried in parliament, the rod and scepter of royalty or the holy rood of the church, the phallic emblem indicated power to wield over others.

But in the 9th century there was a young woman who learned keenly and intelligently. Her name was Johanna. Through many different travels she managed to work her way up through the church, disguised as Brother Johann. In the days of the middle and dark ages, men and women wore similar garments, long robes. A slim woman or one who bound her breasts, who wasn’t particularly feminine looking (remember they didn’t wear make-up or push-up bras then, could easily look like a man. So it was with Johanna, or Johannus.

She fooled the Roman Catholic church enough that she became pope. After a short reign on the papal throne she was discovered when she gave birth on a papal procession and was either stoned to death, deposed or died of the birth. There were two Pope John XIVs, and there might have been a Pope Joan in the 11th to the 9th century. Or perhaps it is made up, just a fiction. One thing is for sure, the Church would want it to be a fiction, to not support it with fact and to hide any information that could be construed as truth. And why? Not be cause it doesn’t follow what’s true but because it would mean a woman rose to the highest station  possible, and if one woman could do it, why not others? They wouldn’t then be inferior creatures, would they? The penis would begin to wilt and not be quite so mighty.

Some Catholic women have begun to petition and protest to the Vatican insisting on ordination for women. Whereas many branches of Christianity now have ordained women, the Roman Catholic Church resists change and equality with a ferocity that Peter would be proud of. You have to really wonder, what are they so afraid of? If women really are the inferior creatures talked about by the Church, then why did Jesus reveal his resurrected self first to a woman, and Eve wouldn’t have chosen knowledge over eternal life.

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A Health & Beauty Tip For Arms

First off, I’m not a medical professional of any sort. I just have some common sense, some experimentation and a eureka moment or two. This one has to do with the upper arms and usually the backs of arms. You might be a person who gets this skin condition, which doesn’t itch usually and is mostly unsightly or makes the skin bumpy.

The skin will sometimes be pinkish or red, or even just normal color but there will be tiny bumps over the back of the arms. It’s called Keratosis Pilaris and seems to be a genetic thing, with about 40% of adults having this skin condition. Commonly called chicken skin, it can affects the back, legs or buttocks as well. I believe these are pores  that have become blocked with sebum, oils or other bits of detritus. A quick google search confirms this. They’re somewhat pimple like and might not swell at all. For other people they may become inflamed as with other pimples but there’s not much you can do about them, so “they” say.

From Wikipedia

I have had this chicken skin in the past. I don’t like the feel or look of it but I find I can control it.  What I do is different that what’s recommended. Overall, medical sites and doctors recommend soaps that are non-drying . And actually soap is rarely needed unless you’re on a job that gets you dirty all over.Years ago a dermatologist told me that soap was really only needed on the torso, and say, the face, feet and hands, but our legs and arms don’t get that dirty and tend to secrete less oil than other areas. So if soap is used it should be used sparingly and anyone who is sensitive should forego it. A good rinse with water will work in most instances.

There is a theory that there could be an underlying bacteria that causes the bumps as well and scrubbing the surface will only inflame, not remove the bumps. Some doctors recommend salicylic acid which comes from willow and is a common exfoliant. This can help open up the clogged pores. Although they don’t recommend scrubbing I have taken a soft nail brush and used it with a bit of soap on my arms and this tends to work for me. But I think I must have a mild condition that has never been severe. Then again, my exfoliating might have worked. I don’t scrub daily but maybe once a week or every two weeks. This seems to keep it in check. But since people do have different severities of skin disorders, it would be best to test one patch of skin and see if it improves or worsens against the other areas.

Some lotions may work while others might contribute to the clogging and this would take more research. I don’t use scented lotions but ones geared to add extra moisture (due to having eczema and rosacea) and with all these tricks, I can keep most of it under control.

Keratosis Pilaris doesn’t inhibit my day to day living and if it was around permanently I would live with it but not suffer much. Still, I find that my skin on my arms is relatively smooth, except for when the eczema hits, which is always worse in winter. And since both rosacea and eczema can be passed on genetically, having a touch of Keratosis Pilaris seems to be just another in the realm of skin conditions. The skin is, after all, the largest organ of the body.

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The Cornucopia List: June 4

Sometimes it’s hard to think of just five things to appreciate in the week, whereas we can always think of a long list of ills, disasters and problems. But by concentrating on this it does take me away from the more dire thoughts. This week’s Cornucopia List includes:

  1. Mushrooms–Some people hate shrooms and consider them slimy, or get all squeamish about them being grown

    Irish shroom outside a Benedictine abbey

    in manure but the truth is that many of the vegetables that we eat are grown in some form of fertilizer made from cow, horse or fish excretions. That’s a lot of what earth is made of: decomposing waste in the form of leaves, bark, animals bones and wastes, and ground down rock. But mushrooms are just amazing in their variety of shapes and colors, are deadly poisonous or delicious, and can be found in many places.  They have flat caps or little pointy gnome hats, red spots, yellow stems, brown, grey blue. They grow round like puffballs (which I have yet to try) and ruffled like the chicken of the woods which grows on trees. And yeah, they are a fungus, unique in and of itself and reproduce through spores. There have been enough horrors stories spawned from this form of reproduction. And they do have a certain alien lifeform to them. But I like ’em, with garlic, in sauces or soups, or on their own, cooked or raw.

  2. Red Wine–Thankfully there are many brands to explore, some out of my price range for now. And of course there are different wines. I like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and if at all possible, a Bordeaux though they’re hard to get. Wine is a bit of an odd duck in flavors. Not particularly sweet, usually slightly bitter or tannic, and made of rotted grapes, yet I do appreciate the subtleties of the flavor.
  3. Salt–We may be made mostly of water but we are of many degrees salt too and it’s essential to a diet to maintain aspects of health that I can’t even explain; electrolytes are one. When we’re dehydrated we need to take in salt and water, what all those horrid Gatorade drinks have in them (yes I find them gross.) But salt, on popcorn, or corn, or eggs, or turkey is a very yummy thing and sometimes it’s salt we seem to want more than the other flavors. My family used to abuse salt (my mother still salts pizzas) and when I hit my late teens I cut down and stopped salting cheddar cheese. But without salt many of our dishes would be a lot blander.
  4. That some people appreciate me–We can’t all be liked universally, nor even hated the same. Some personalities mesh, some people change and some people blame everyone else for their problems. Even if just doing part of my job, it’s nice to know that some people think I’m doing it well. A simple thanks can make a big difference. A word of appreciation to a stranger on their coat, or hat, or shoes, can just add an extra smile to the day. And it doesn’t to do it. I appreciate that people sometimes appreciate me. It lightens the day.
  5. Sleep–Seriously, I love sleep. Of course, we’d be zombies without it but I love drifting away in a restful world and then ending up in all sorts of worlds. I love waking up slowly, though my bothersome cat doesn’t always let me. Slowly coming awake (as opposed to the obnoxious eeeee of the alarm), registering the sound of people talking, dogs barking, birds chirping, cars moving, and then feeling the shift from darkness to a lighter gray behind the eyes is great and languorous. I wouldn’t want to sleep all the time but I do like sleeping.

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The Disposable Society

Imagine a time when you either wove your own fabric from skeins of wool or cotton, maybe even carding and spinning the wool. Or perhaps you bought the bolt of cloth and made your own garments by hand, or were lucky enough to have a foot treadle sewing machine. If you could you might have bought one fine dress and it was your Sunday dress or suit, worn for years until it wore out. Any garment you had would be recycled as it fell apart, the usable pieces cut out and either made into something else or used to patch a new garment. Nothing was wasted. You wore your shoes until they fell off of you, probably having been repaired and patched as many times as possible.

If you bought (or even if you butchered yourself) part of a cow, you would use every scrap possibly, make soup from bones. Even slight old vegetables or meat that was still good would be cooked or preserved in some way as soup, stews or pickled. Dish water might be reused several times or people would bathe in the same water. Everything was used until it could not be used anymore. Baskets or carts were taken to market laden with goods, and brought back again with different items.

Just think, only one hundred years ago, this was the norm for the average person. Before the age of industrialization it was very much the way and life consisted of one of existence and keeping a roof over your head and feeding you and your loved ones. Communities worked together and spare time was time to socialize because it was rare but everyone needed some fun and leisure.

Once industrialization began, machines could make things faster and cheaper, cutting down on labor (which caused its own problems in labor of course) and soon most people did not need to know how to sew or mend, could own a couple of pairs of shoes and could buy various items easily. As we progressed past the war years, we started to enter the disposable society. Imagine the rationing of World War II when everything from food to rubber was rationed so that the front lines had enough and that equipment could be made towards the war. This would never happen today because there are numerous supply lines from various countries and shipping through various forms of transportation.

You would have an outhouse and if lucky, perhaps a newspaper or magazine, that once read from cover to cover, would be used as toilet paper. If no newspaper, you probably had buckets of leaves. Water was gathered from a pump or a well and heated on a wood stove, the wood which you chopped yourself. You would probably grow many of your own vegetables, raise a few chickens for eggs and if on a farm, you’d be butchering your own meat. Bread was made from scratch as was everything else. What surplus you had was sold for items such as plows, hoes, shoes, ribbons, fabric, treats or other food that you didn’t have, candles, lamp oil, axes, horses, cows, chickens, maybe a book if you were learned and could afford a bit extra.

If you look at your life in contrast to someone’s of a hundred years ago you will have numerous clothes, good and casual, several pairs of shoes or more, and coats for several seasons. You live in a place with many books (if you’re into books) or magazines or newspapers. You have a TV, a computer, a land or cell phone (or both) and a host of other electronic devices that make eating, sleeping, working and leisure time easier. You don’t have to make all your food from scratch or even have a garden. Vegetables and fruit are available year-long, plus exotic foods that only the elite once ate. We throw out clothes when they go out of fashion or get a bit worn. We can buy new clothes for as little as a few bucks.

Most of us don’t even need to take our basket or cart to market, though more and more people are using cloth bags. And this in itself has generated an industry of plastics so cheap that you get a bag with every purchase. The bags are disposable, like the clothes, the slightly worn shoes, a computer three years old, a car that is five years old, a book, jewellery or food in such abundance that we let it go bad. But is it truly disposable? We throw or give these things away and once out of sight, out of mind. But many of these items end up in landfills or garbage heaps or somewhere where they will take a thousand years or more to decompose.

Imagine, in a thousand years we went from the Byzantine Empire to today. Religions were born, societies fell, cultures changed. And now, we constantly waste, all of us. There are countries in the world that are too poor to waste anything, but anyone in western culture, Europe or North America wastes, no matter how good we are at recycling. So that means we all have room to improve. And if we really want to take a look at the popular carbon footprint, then it does not just mean taking the bus instead of driving, or not flying. It means buying foods that are made locally, or grown yourself. These aspects we know, but where do our clothes and our shoes, our computers and iPods come from? How much carbon is used in the manufacture of these items and the shipping of them?

I believe every person could try harder to be less wasteful, which would preserve our resources longer, and really think about that carbon footprint. Money and resources flow through us as if the sluice gates were wide open.  The carbon footprint is everywhere, not just in food or transportation. It’s not an easy solution, nor a fast one and will take years of us looking differently at everything, but maybe we can change our society from being one of disposable and consumeristic to being one of conserving and re-using.

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