Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Green Workshops

I've been attending a "green" workshop each month for the last year and a half.

Its been extremely interesting and fun to participate in these workshops. Over the course of my "green awakening", we've covered energy efficiency, green cleaning, home energy audits, fair trade purchases, water conservation, etc. Next months' topic will be "greening" your lawn-care.

I am still not good to the environment, but I'm trying to make small changes. Over the course of the last couple of years, I've been able to make some improvements at home and at the office.

After all, who doesn't want to be more efficient/ a better steward of the resources we've been given? Its only wise to make the most of everything we've been given.

Home Improvements:

-CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs replaced incandescent bulbs. (around 24 replaced)

-Energy Audit performed that analyzed energy efficiency of my apartment. My appliances, plugged-in-devices, lights, windows, insulation, heating&A/C sources, etc. were evaluated. (Subsequent caulking done to cut down on an outside draft).

-Aerators installed on shower head, kitchen faucet, and bathroom faucet for water conservation.


-Green cleaning products made and soon to be used.

-Still to be done: I am borrowing a tub and would like to put soil and red worms to quickly compost organic food waste like fruit peelings.

Thankfully, my landlord pays for heat and water. But it also means that I can't have a programmable thermostat (radiated heating) and I can't help him save money and reduce our collective carbon footprint.

Office Improvements:

-CFL bulbs replaced all available incandescent bulbs

-Old, non-functioning refrigerator replaced by a high energy efficient one, saving WMF several hundred dollars in electricity each year.

-Some green purchases made: paper

-Green cleaning products made and soon to be used.


Since last months' workshop was about "greening" your cleaning, I've included the following recipes.

Some recipes for your own green cleaning products:

All-Purpose Cleaner:

Mix 2 1/2 tsp borax; dab of liquid soap, and 2 cups hot water. Mix and shake in a spray bottle for use on counters, etc.

Window Cleaner:

Mix 1/2 tsp liquid detergent, 3T white vinegar, and 2 cups water. Keep in a spray bottle.

Spray the windows and wipe with wadded up newspaper or 100% cotton cloths (old t-shirts, etc.). These newspapers, once used, can still be recycled.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Fun, Informative Links

1. Environment: One of the largest "green" sites on the web.

2. Classic Sermons: Listen to A.W. Tozer, Jackie Pullinger, Richard Wurmbrand, George Verwer, plus many others.

3. US Drought Monitor: See where the wars of the future will be fought over water.

4. Find locally grown food. Check your neighborhood for local farms, farmer's markets, and groceries that carry local produce, vegetables, etc.

5. US Military Aggression Documented In: Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798 - 2004

6. Practical Calculators To See the Energy Efficiency/Inefficiency of Your Whole House or Individual Appliances. (There should even be a better site where you just put in the appliance model numbers)

7. Watch College Courses for Free. Plenty of Courses to Choose from Using Berkeley's handy webcasts.

8. Choose a Newspaper from around the World to Read:

9. Microfinance lending: Featured on Oprah.

10. Don't believe a political candidate is telling the truth? Check it out at: http://www.factcheck.org/

Monday, February 18, 2008

Plane Ride from Guinea to Sierra Leone

When WMF first traveled to Sierra Leone, the diamond war had just ended and parts of the country were still under rebel control. The disarmament process was just starting.

All international flights into Sierra Leone were suspended. The only flights available were from neighboring Guinea.

The plane we took was a small-medium size plane. There were no boarding passes; we were to file into our seats much like being ushered into church pews. We were directed to fill up each row before the next row became available. A large Ukranian man supervised the process. He was friends with the large Ukranian men piloting the plane.

I saw and heard chickens on the flight.

I was tired, having flown through London, so I closed my eyes after takeoff. I only opened my eyes half-way through the flight. To my surprise, something like smoke had filled the cabin. I didn't scream because no one else seemed alarmed about it...like it was an everyday occurance. I had looked around to see whether an emergency was imminent.

My theory is that the cabin wasn't pressurized and clouds were coming through the inside of the plane. That maybe we didn't climb to a high enough altitude for pressurization to be necessary but that low lying clouds were able to permeate the cabin.

The ride itself was like any other flight. But I'll always remember the cabin full of smoke on our way to SL.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Minneapolis, MN

I just got back from visiting Brage, Brian, Myles, and Andrew in Minneapolis over the weekend.

It was a great trip. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of our time together.

I thoroughly enjoyed the basketball games, the Alps IMAX movie, the service at Woodland Hills, Brians' breakfast making skills, and many other things.

Thanks for your wonderful hospitality.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Silver Bullet

I am grateful that even in a big family, that mom and dad took us on vacation twice a year. We would always travel right after Christmas and during the summer. Each for one week to ten days apiece. And always to visit family.

Our summer trip was always south to Georgia. Our Christmas trip was almost always to visit my aunt and uncle...wherever they lived...MI, PA, VA.

I always remember the trips starting vacation being a lot more fun than the trip home. We'd excite ourselves with the normal games...license plates, etc. But we were ritualistic about the trips and this creating good and long-lasting memories.

The cars changed over time with the size of the family. Sedan, station-wagon, borrowed VW, and eventually the 15 passenger Silver Bullet.

The trip to Georgia:
Pack the night before. Get up at 4:30AM and start up. Immediately get munchkins at the nearby Dunkin Donuts. Drive till around 11:00 for a new tank of gas and eat at Jerry's in southern Indiana. Drive several more hours until gas runs out and take the cooler out of the back and pass around the pimento and cheese sandwiches or PB&J. Drive till we reach Nana's house in rural Georgia around 9 at night. Hope to see her playing Scrabble on the porch with Aunt Irene.

These memories have a sweet, almost sticky feeling in my mind.

Nana was the last of my grandparents. Mom's mom, early widowed, lover of Scripture, Scrabble player, prayer warrior, hard-working, frugal, accepting, independent wonderful woman.

We'd arrive late in the evening, get the cushions off the couch and place them on the floor and cover with sheets. Off to bed.

Over the course of our week there we'd hunt for frogs/toads, catch lizards, place pennies on the railroad track, fish for catfish/bass with some kataba worms off a nearby tree, swing on ropes into the lake, read good books, play Scrabble, collect coal that had fallen from the railcars, eat delicious Southern cooking, pick fresh blackberries and eat them with ice cream, in pies, and alone, and generally have some of the best times.

Later episodes: Dad's driven nature (no bathroom breaks no matter what), Brage's full-on Southern accent in 3 days of being in the South, fire ants, and the Cyclorama.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Frederick Douglass Autobiography Appendix

Harsh critique, but worth knowing about:

I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative, that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation. What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the "slave holding religion" of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference--so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slave holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of "stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in." I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me. He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale pollution. The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families,--sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers,--leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery. We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the POOR HEATHEN! ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE GOOD OF SOULS! The slave auctioneer's bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other --devils dressed in angels' robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.

The appendix continues on with poetry, prose, and parody.