Thursday, December 11, 2008

Passing the Purple Hat

Passing the Purple Hat to You........
In honor of women's history month and in memory of Erma Bombeck who lost her
fight with cancer.

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER - by  Erma Bombeck

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing  away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.' There would have been more 'I love you's' More 'I'm sorry's.

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look  at it and really see it...... live it and never give it back. STOP  SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!

Don't worry about who doesn't like  you, who has more, or who's doing what. Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us!

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Visions/New Mexico Awardee

Governor Richardson announces “New Visions/New Mexico” Contract Awardees

Congratulations to one of our own!!

Catherine Fridey of Albuquerque, $18,000 toward THE SANDS OF TIME, an animated time travel series which includes archaeological, cultural, and historical facts and research.

SANTA FE – Governor Bill Richardson today announced the recipients of
the 2008 New Visions/New Mexico Contract Awards. Now in its third
year, the program is providing fourteen contracts totaling $160,000
for New Mexico-based producers and directors to create narrative
films, documentaries, animated and experimental works.

“I’m pleased to continue supporting our home-based talent,” said
Governor Richardson. “Promoting the work of New Mexico’s own
filmmakers is key to our continued success in the industry.”

Awardees will provide a service to the state as part of their
contract, such as training other New Mexicans who are new to the
industry, providing free in-state screenings, workshops and seminars,
and conducting outreach to students interested in pursuing film/media
careers. To date, New Visions awardees have trained dozens of
interns and apprentices, provided classroom instruction statewide,
submitted their work to festivals across the country, and provided
free screenings for hundreds of New Mexicans across the state.

“The New Visions program remains an important part of our long-term
strategy to build a strong media community in the state,” said Eric
Witt, Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Richardson.

Film Office Director Lisa Strout acknowledged the nearly 150 entrants
who submitted proposals, noting the high quality projects taking
place throughout the state. “We encourage everyone to pursue their
visions and take advantage of the state’s tax incentives and training
programs,” she said. “We will continue the New Visions program in
2009, and provide more opportunities for New Mexicans to bring their
stories to life.”

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dumb eco-questions you were afraid to ask

[Especially note the very last question/answer. Seattle has recently outlawed the use of plastic bags (if I understand it correctly). Turns out to be a complicated isssue than we thought.] Joan R. Saks Berman, Ph.D.

New Scientist offers the definitive guide to everything you wanted to know about being green but were too embarrassed to ask!

If I switch the light on and off every time I enter and leave a room, does this use more energy than leaving it on all evening?

Switching the light on and off does saves energy, but there is a catch. Every time you flip the switch, the bulb takes a jolt of electricity, which shortens its life. Studies by the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, found that turning low-energy compact fluorescent bulbs on and off at frequent intervals can shorten their lifespan by as much as 75 per cent. The institute's director of energy utilisation, Tom Reddoch, suggests leaving energy-saving bulbs on if you will be out of the room for less than 15 minutes.

How clean does the pizza box have to be for it to be recyclable? Likewise cans and bottles

According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), based in Banbury, UK, pizza boxes are often not recyclable. That's because grease from the toppings contaminates the cardboard, making it useless to paper mills - though it can still be composted. Such impregnation is not a problem when it comes to cans and bottles. Nevertheless, they should be rinsed to remove food remnants so as not to attract vermin.. Plastic should also be clean, and lids removed from bottles so they can be squashed flat. WRAP recommends rinsing waste items in old washing-up water to save energy.

Are laminated juice cartons recyclable?

Yes - but only if you separate them out. Placing cartons lined with polyethylene or aluminium foil into your ordinary paper recycling devalues the load and, depending on the mill it reaches, may mean it ends up in landfill. However, the drinks carton industry has taken steps to recover their product for recycling. In the UK, manufacturers have funded a local collection scheme. The empty drinks cartons are shipped in bulk to a processing mill in Sweden, which turns the fibre into plasterboard lining while burning the plastic and aluminium to fuel the plant.

What's the most fuel-efficient way to drive?

Smoothly. Avoid dramatic braking and acceleration and use cruise control if you've got it. Move through the gears as quickly as possible, changing up before you hit 2500 revs per minute (2000 rpm for a diesel). Where possible, drive at a steady 55 miles per hour (90 kilometres per hour). It is up to 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than driving at 75 mph. Check your tyre pressure once a month because underinflated tyres can raise fuel consumption by 6 per cent. Don't carry excess baggage. Each extra 25 kilograms decreases fuel efficiency by 1 per cent. And avoid short trips - a cold engine uses twice as much fuel as a warm one.

Is it worth recycling when stuff gets shipped to China and back in the process? Given the carbon footprint of all that, maybe we should just let the stuff rot

With recycling rates going through the roof, some countries don't have the capacity to process all their waste. In the past 10 years, for example, waste paper exports from the UK have risen from 470,000 tonnes to 4.7 million tonnes per year and exports of used plastic bottles have gone from under 40,000 to 500,000 tonnes. China has a big demand for both materials, and its trade imbalance with Europe and the US means container ships would be heading home empty if they didn't carry waste. According to a recent study by WRAP, shipping waste to China in this way uses 10 per cent of the carbon saved by recycling.

Can I save the planet by staying slim?

It's unlikely. In May, Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine did link obesity and global warming (The Lancet, vol 371, p 1661). They argued that obese people consume around 18 per cent more calories than the average and their greater mass means their vehicles require more fuel, so policies to encourage walking and cycling would not only improve people's health but also be good for the planet. Perhaps such policies would provide short-term benefits, but in the long run they would be more than offset by the fact that people who stay in shape are likely to live longer, emitting tonnes of CO2 for every extra year of their lives. So being slim may be good for you, but is unlikely to benefit the planet.

What's worse, the CO2 put out by a gas-fuelled car or the environmental effects of hybrid-car batteries?

According to the UK-based Environmental Transport Association (ETA), the most efficient conventionally powered cars are slightly less detrimental to the environment than hybrid models. However, it points out that the current crop of hybrids won't evolve without customers willing to invest in what is still frontier technology.

What is recycled organic waste used for?

There are three main uses. Treated aerobically, organic waste is composted to produce soil conditioner or landscaping mulch, returning carbon to the soil. Under anaerobic conditions, it can be digested by bacteria to produce methane, used to generate electricity. Through a combination of biological and mechanical processes, it is also turned into fuel that can substitute for coal or coke in power stations or cement kilns.

If I offset my flights, can I fly as much as I want?

Yes. And no. Offsetting can work but it is based on a series of untestable assumptions. One of these is that offsetting activities, such as planting trees or installing energy-efficient light bulbs, wouldn't have happened otherwise. "We can't prove that," says Paul Hooper of the Centre for Air Transport and the Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Another problem is the huge variability in the schemes. Different carbon calculators cough out wildly different emissions figures for the same flight, and the cost of offsetting a tonne of CO2 ranges from about £2 to about £18 depending on how it is done. "It's a minefield," says Hooper. His advice is to use the carbon calculator provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization and then offset your flight with a UN-certified scheme. Better yet, he says, don't fly in the first place.

If I'm stuck in a stop-start traffic jam, do I use more petrol turning my car on and off repeatedly or leaving it running?

Unless you are certain you won't have to pull away at short notice, the inconvenience and tiny amounts of fuel involved make stopping and restarting the engine hardly worthwhile. The UK Automobile Association (AA) recommends switching off if you are likely to be stopped more than 3 minutes. Technology is already providing a better solution, though. Recognising that many hours of urban driving are spent at a standstill, several car manufacturers have started to introduce so-called "stop-start" technology. In fact, Volkswagen recently mothballed plans for a hybrid car, preferring to invest in stop-start technology on its standard models to achieve fuel efficiency savings of between 10 and 15 per cent in urban traffic.

Can I put window envelopes in the paper recycling?

Envelopes are tricky devils to recycle because of their transparent plastic address windows and sticky seals. Latex gum from self-sealing envelopes clogs machines, and plastic degrades recycled paper quality. Both have to be extracted. However, different paper mills have different tolerances to contaminants, depending on their cleaning equipment, the product being made, and the grade of recovered paper being recycled. That's why recycling agencies have differing standards. In the UK, you can check whether your local authority will accept any type of envelope by using the postcode checker at Otherwise, you'll have to remove the window and the gum before recycling - or simply reuse your envelopes.

How long does it take for a micro-windmill to pay for itself?

That depends on where you live and what you mean by paying for itself. Last year the UK Building Research Establishment compared the payback times of different turbines in different locations. In inshore urban settings, it found wind turbines produce such puny amounts of juice that they struggle to recoup their cost and, after allowing for manufacturing and distribution, end up costing more carbon than they save. On the coast it's different. The study showed a turbine at Wick in the Scottish Highlands generated 3000 kilowatt-hours a year, about 40 per cent of an average household's needs. Payback time for the investment could be as little as a year.

Is it better to buy an eco-friendly car, with all the energy that is needed to produce it, or just run my old one into the ground?

According to the ETA, when the average new car leaves the showroom, its manufacture, design and marketing have accounted for up to 6 tonnes of CO2 emissions. "Nevertheless, swapping a thirsty and polluting older car for a lighter, more fuel-efficient model makes environmental sense," says Yannick Read of the ETA. But, he adds, gains made from exchanging a five-year-old family car with a similar-sized, brand-new model are likely to be negligible.

Will washing my clothes at 30 °C really get them clean?

If the reaction of consumers is anything to go by, washing powders formulated for use at lower temperatures do work. In a 2006 study by the UK's Energy Saving Trust, 89 per cent of families who had been asked to test Ariel at 30 °C said they would continue using it. Likewise, while only 2 per cent of UK households were washing at 30 °C in 2002, five years later that figure was up to 17 per cent. Meanwhile in Germany, where people have traditionally used lower washing settings than in the UK, they are turning down to 20 °C, and in North America growing numbers are doing their laundry in cold water. Unfortunately, there are some nasties that low temperatures may not remove. Researchers from the University of Seoul, South Korea, found that washing with biological detergent at 30 °C only killed 6 per cent of dust mites, compared with 100 per cent at 60 °C, and leaves traces of other allergens, including pollen grains and dog skin cells. The global detergent manufacturer Unilever, which has been keen to promote the eco-message, still advises customers to run one wash per week at 40 °C to ensure bacteria don't have a chance to grow in the machine and cause unpleasant smells.

Why can't the machines in my gym be used to generate electricity?

They can. The Green Microgym in Portland, Oregon, which opened in August, is the first in the US to convert the efforts of gym bunnies into electricity. Its three specially adapted bikes and the four-person "Team Dynamo", which combines cycles with hand cranks, can generate up to 1000 watts. What's more, you can emulate them in your own home by investing in a Pedal-A-Watt. When hooked up to a normal bicycle on a stand, this device allows a cyclist to generate up to 200 watts of electricity. That's enough to power a large TV while you go. Or you can store the energy you produce in a battery and use it later. An hour's worth of cycling could power a low-energy light bulb for 8 hours.

Does switching from bus to bike really have any effect? After all, cycling isn't completely carbon neutral because I've got to eat to fuel my legs

You are much better off cycling. A 12-kilometre round commute on a bus or subway train is reckoned to generate 164 kilograms of carbon per commuter per year. Somebody cycling that distance would burn about 50,000 calories a year - roughly the amount of energy in 22 kilograms of brown bread. A kilo of brown bread has a carbon footprint of about 1.1 kilograms, so switching from public transport to a bike saves about 140 kilograms of carbon emissions per year. Although this only really works if enough people cycle to allow public transport providers to reduce the number of buses and trains they run.

Is a full commercial plane more fuel-efficient over long distances than a car?

Not if the car is also full. Consider this. EasyJet, which claims to be 30 per cent more fuel efficient than other carriers, largely because it packs in more people, calculates that on an average flight each passenger accounts for 957 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, compared with 164 grams for someone travelling by car. That flight will be around 80 per cent full, so the figure would fall to 76 grams per person if every seat were taken. What's more, most EasyJet flights are either short or medium haul, making them one-third less efficient than long-haul flights (over 4000 kilometres) Long-haul flights could bring the figure down to around 50 grams per passenger. However, using EasyJet's own figures, a full car would produce just 41 grams of CO2 per kilometre for each of its four passengers. So cars win no matter what the distance - although clearly planes have the edge when travelling over water.

If I turn my appliances off but don't unplug them will they still use up some electricity?

No. And that applies even if the plug is switched on or if the socket has no on/off switch. The exceptions are appliances with a standby mode, which include most battery chargers. As a rule of thumb, if there is a light on, a clock ticking or the transformer feels warm, it is using electricity. And that can be a substantial proportion of the amount the appliances consumes when in use. A television set-top box, for example, uses around 18 watts while it is on and almost 17 watts on standby.

Does it really take more energy to recycle an aluminium can than to make a new one?

No, absolutely not. According to Alcoa, the world's third-largest aluminium producer, manufacturing a can from recycled aluminium uses only 5 per cent of the energy of making one from scratch - an energy saving that could power a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours.

What is the single most effective thing I can do for the environment?

Over a 75-year lifespan, the average European will be responsible for about 900 tonnes of CO2 emissions. For Americans and Australians, the figure is more like 1500 tonnes. Add to that all of humanity's other environmentally damaging activities and, draconian as it may sound, the answer must surely be to avoid reproducing.

How environmentally damaging is barbecuing?

Tristram West from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee has calculated that on 4 July - when over half of all American households fire up their barbies - the grills release 225,000 tonnes of CO2. The emissions from these estimated 60 million barbecues would still be less than 1.5 per cent of the nation's daily output. Not too high a price to pay for a whole lot of fun, you might think. However, West also points out that this is equivalent to burning 2300 acres of forest. He says that if you do choose to barbecue, the most eco-friendly method is to use charcoal as opposed to the propane burners favoured by most Americans. Food grilled over charcoal made from locally grown coppiced wood may actually have a smaller carbon footprint than if it were cooked conventionally, since sustainably grown wood is carbon neutral and transport is minimised.

When and how is the most energy-efficient way to defrost my fridge-freezer, and is a self-defrosting fridge more eco-friendly?

The frost in your freezer forms when warm air condenses and freezes on the cooling coils. Self-defrosting fridges generally use more energy than manual models because their coils are automatically heated every few hours to melt any frost that forms on them. But a manual-defrost fridge is only better if you defrost it before the frost starts to take over, because the coils have to work harder to cool the air if they are covered in ice. How often you need to defrost depends on how often you open the door and the humidity of the air. As a general rule though, you should defrost when the ice gets to 5 millimetres thick. The best way to do this is to turn off the freezer, put pans of hot water inside to speed up melting, and then remove the big bits of ice with a plastic scraper.

What does the circling-arrows logo on European packaging mean?

Hands up everyone who thinks the small, round symbol of two arrows circling each other means that packaging can be recycled. Wrong! In fact, this so-called "green dot", or "grĂ¼ner punkt" - which is often printed in black - originated in Germany and indicates that the manufacturer has paid into a scheme to meet the general costs of recycling under the terms of European Union legislation. So particular packaging bearing the logo may or may not be recyclable. In countries such as the UK that have not adopted the system, the logo is especially perplexing, as its use appears quite arbitrary. "We typically deal with multinational suppliers that often sell the same product in multiple countries and therefore include things on packaging that may be irrelevant in one of those markets," explains Katherine Symonds of the supermarket chain Tesco. Recognising that this can lead to confusion, she says Tesco has now established a working group with other retailers to make labelling "clearer and more intuitive".

What's greener, paper/cardboard or plastic packaging?

Many people choose paper over plastic, figuring that being renewable, degradable and recyclable, it is probably the greener option. In reality it's not quite that simple. Paper is heavier and bulkier to ship than plastic, takes more energy to produce and uses damaging chemicals in its manufacture. Overall, the best packaging choice is the one that has the least total impact over its life - from raw materials and shipping emissions to toxicity and waste - and that depends on where it comes from and what you plan to do with it. Consumers often don't have the required information to work out this trade-off but there are some things to keep in mind. Check whether the paper or plastic has already been recycled, and whether you can reuse or recycle it. Also, if you tend to avoid packaging altogether, consider this: if it reduces the chances of a product perishing or breaking before it can be used then it is almost always better to have packaging than not. Just choose products with the smallest amount possible.

a.. From issue 2682 of New Scientist magazine, page 36-42.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Church of Stop Shopping

Apocalypse is from the Greek, and it has a surprising root definition. It comes from "to reveal, to unveil." When the system breaks down, we see the truth of the system's center, of its root. --Reverend Billy

Fact of the Day:
The Church of Stop Shopping is a project that has expanded from a one-man performance artist preaching against consumerism on the sidewalks of Times Square to a 35-person choir and 7-person band with dozens of original songs, a critically acclaimed stage show, a major motion picture and multiple media platforms. The Church is committed to educating the public about the consequences of unsustainable consumption. The message -- consuming less-- is the single most effective and immediate response an individual can take to immediately halting the climate crisis. This same message has reached millions of people and has contributed to the public's increasing awareness of the relationship between shopping and climate change.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. --Helen Keller

Fact of the Day:
"I see this word, hear this word, feel this word everywhere. Real security. Security check. Security watch. Security clearance. Why has all this focus on security made me feel so much more insecure? What does anyone mean when they speak of security? In fact, security is essentially elusive, impossible. We all die. We all get sick. We all get old. People leave us. People surprise us. People change us. Nothing is secure. And this is the good news. But only if you are not seeking security as the point of your life. Here's what happens when security becomes the centre of your life. You can't travel very far or venture too far outside a certain circle." So begins this intriguing reflection by Eve Ensler. (read more here:

Be The Change:
What is the real meaning of security to you?

Friday, November 7, 2008


For all you that missed the fun:)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Arts Policies

Image from

Did you know he even had one?

Our nation’s creativity has filled the world’s libraries, museums, recital halls, movie houses, and marketplaces with works of genius. The arts embody the American spirit of self-definition. As the author of two best-selling books – Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression.

Reinvest in Arts Education:
To remain competitive in the global economy, America needs to reinvigorate the kind of creativity and innovation that has made this country great. To do so, we must nourish our children’s creative skills. In addition to giving our children the science and math skills they need to compete in the new global context, we should also encourage the ability to think creatively that comes from a meaningful arts education. Unfortunately, many school districts are cutting instructional time for art and music education.
Barack Obama and Joe Biden believe that the arts should be a central part of effective teaching and learning. The Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts recently said “The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.”

To support greater arts education Obama will:

Expand Public/Private Partnerships Between Schools and Arts Organizations: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will increase resources for the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination Grants, which develop public/private partnerships between schools and arts organizations. They will also engage the foundation and corporate community to increase support for public/private partnerships.

Create an Artist Corps:
Barack Obama and Joe Biden support the creation of an “Artists Corps” of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and their communities. Studies in Chicago have demonstrated that test scores improved faster for students enrolled in low-income schools that link arts across the curriculum than scores for students in schools lacking such programs.

Publicly Champion the Importance of Arts Education:

As president, Barack Obama will use the bully pulpit and the example he will set in the White House to promote the importance of arts and arts education in America. Not only is arts education indispensable for success in a rapidly changing, high skill, information economy, but studies show that arts education raises test scores in other subject areas as well.

Support Increased Funding for the NEA:
Over the last 15 years, government funding for the National Endowment for the Arts has been slashed from $175 million annually in 1992 to $125 million today. Barack Obama and Joe Biden support increased funding for the NEA, the support of which enriches schools and neighborhoods all across the nation and helps to promote the economic development of countless communities.

Promote Cultural Diplomacy:
American artists, performers and thinkers – representing our values and ideals – can inspire people both at home and all over the world. Through efforts like that of the United States Information Agency, America’s cultural leaders were deployed around the world during the Cold War as artistic ambassadors and helped win the war of ideas by demonstrating to the world the promise of America. Artists can be utilized again to help us win the war of ideas against Islamic extremism. Unfortunately, our resources for cultural diplomacy are at their lowest level in a decade. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will work to reverse this trend and improve and expand public-private partnerships to expand cultural and arts exchanges throughout the world.

Attract Foreign Talent:
The flipside to promoting American arts and culture abroad is welcoming members of the foreign arts community to America. Opening America’s doors to students and professional artists provides the kind of two-way cultural understanding that can break down the barriers that feed hatred and fear. As America tightened visa restrictions after 9/11, the world’s most talented students and artists, who used to come here, went elsewhere. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will streamline the visa process to return America to its rightful place as the world’s top destination for artists and art students.

Provide Health Care to Artists:
Finding affordable health coverage has often been one of the most vexing obstacles for artists and those in the creative community. Since many artists work independently or have nontraditional employment relationships, employer-based coverage is unavailable and individual policies are financially out of reach. The Obama-Biden plan will provide all Americans with quality, affordable health care. Their plan includes the creation of a new public program that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health care similar to that available to federal employees. Their plan also creates a National Health Insurance Exchange to reform the private insurance market and allow Americans to enroll in participating private plans, which would have to provide comprehensive benefits, issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums. For those who still cannot afford coverage, the government will provide a subsidy. His health plan will lower costs for the typical American family by up to $2,500 per year.

Ensure Tax Fairness for Artists:
Barack Obama supports the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow artists to deduct the fair market value of their work, rather than just the costs of the materials, when they make charitable contributions.
Paid for by Obama for America

Image from

In all fairness, here's what I found on McCain's policy at

John McCain believes that arts education can play a vital role fostering creativity and expression. He is a strong believer in empowering local school districts to establish priorities based on the needs of local schools and school districts. Schools receiving federal funds for education must be held accountable for providing a quality education in basic subjects critical to ensuring students are prepared to compete and succeed in the global economy. Where these local priorities allow, he believes investing in arts education can play a role in nurturing the creativity of expression so vital to the health of our cultural life and providing a means of creative expression for young people.