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Oregonian Against Benefits

TriMet MAX Yellow Line tram on opening day wit...
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Sunday, December 20, 2009, my husband and I were floored to see that the Oregonian wants to bring down benefits for all by ridiculing the area transit authority.  In their front page article, the Oregonian lambasted union employees for sucking the system dry when the glorious management just wants to tidy up the bottom line.  My husband and I dutifully wrote our letters responding to the article.

Continue reading Oregonian Against Benefits

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NRDC: Trashy Habits — Reducing Your Waste

NRDC: Trashy Habits — Reducing Your Waste.  So, everything is about the “Green Life” these days.  Linux themes, many blogs, and even some green washing.  One of my favorite sites for information is the Natural Resource Defense Council.  And, it looks like they’ve picked up on the demand for Green Life blogs (linked above).  Today’s blog was on Trash.  A favorite topic of many the greeny.   How do we dispose of our waste in a more responsible manner so that we’re not sweeping the issue under the rug?  The author-urbanite provides some quick logic and a no-nonsense look at what we waste, why, and how to reduce it.

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I’m sorry

How old should a child be when they learn, “I’m sorry”?  I’ve told Levi sorry when I’ve made mistakes or blamed him for something he didn’t do or didn’t mean to do.  I’ve tried to tell him whenever it was appropriate, whenever I was sorry.  Levi is now 2 years and almost 9 months old… 33 months, almost 3 years.  Shouldn’t now be a good time for him to learn to say, “I’m sorry.”

Well, it better be.  He has a bowling ball for a head, or rather it’s that hard.  He tripped and fell today, and while I was consoling him on my lap, he whacked his head back and smacked my nose.  This was the hardest he’s ever smacked it before.  Instantly I cried, it hurt that bad.

I made him stay in his room until he said he’s sorry. He came out every so often, which we allow, but wouldn’t apologize, so I sent him back.  By the third time, we had a short (as in low to the ground) eye-to-eye chat and he mostly said sorry.  By mostly, I mean he said it and had some eye contact.

Is this the right time?  It seemed effective 2 days ago.  He’s got to learn, sooner rather than later, how his actions affect others.  So, now seems like a good time to me.

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Apparently, methimazole is only designed to be used very short term.  Results will show at about 18 months.  If they don’t show up by 18 months, chances are you aren’t going to see promising results.  The success rate is less than 50%, with some sources citing only a 20% or 30% success rate.  I was on it for 22 months.  My thyroid hormone finally got to normal.  I got off the drug, and my thyroid has started to increase its hormones.  My Grave’s Disease is back.

Continue reading Choices

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Open Source

John Willoner's Eco-House at Findhorn. Turf ro...
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Many of the things I write about detail sustainability and sustainable living.  I’d like to take this post to discuss sustainability on a technological level.  Previous posts have described my frustration with computers and the next new thing.  Clearly, constantly eliminating technology in replace of newer hardware where the old hardware is simply thrown out isn’t sustainable.  But, what would an alternative be?  Open Source software that works with hardware of many ages is one such option.  Open Source software also speaks to a philosophy of shared knowledge, which in many circles is an underlying aspect to sustainability. Continue reading Open Source

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Nature Cures Clinic on the Health Benefits of Organics

Nature Cures Clinic : A Naturopathic Clinic in Portland Oregon.

The timing is a perfect follow up to the last paragraph of my blog yesterday.  Some of the highlights:

  • First off, the study says nothing about the health impact of daily exposure to residual pesticides and herbicides.
  • It says nothing about the health impact of GMO foods, which are well established, even if they are not acknowledged by the FDA.
  • And it says nothing about the detrimental health impact of the environmental degradation that results from conventional farming.

Add to the conversation – what do you think the health benefits are of organics?

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Eco lunches

Peter's Eco Lunch Bag
A homemade duck-cloth lunch bag.

I’ve noticed lately two things:  1) there are a lot of tips to show you how to build a green lunch and 2) there is a lot of talk about how organic food doesn’t hold any more nutrition than conventional food.  The discussion that could happen based on these trends is amazing, and I would like to add a few points to hopefully further the discussion. Continue reading Eco lunches

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How to get Free Mulch in the Portland Metro Area

Yesterday, I received an email from “Ben”.  Unfortunately, my reply bounced back.  Regardless, I said that when asked a question, I would post it here.  Ben was interested in more concrete places to get free mulch, and this is what I’ve set to tell him:

We got our free mulch from Asplundh, who I believe were contracted by P.G.E.  They trimmed our neighborhood’s trees when I wrote that post a few months ago.  They simply had a sign that read, “Free Wood Chips.”

I believe tree trimmers and arborists have to pay a fee to dump mulch, so they’d much rather give it away.  I’ve heard that some tree services have a long list of names, so it may just take some inquiring to find out.

As for a place to start…  I would contact these companies or agencies in addition to Asplundh:

  • International Society of Arborists, Pacific Northwest Chapter: – they may have further direction.
  • James Kinder, Green Options Tree Care, 5755 Willow Lane, Lake Oswego, OR 97035, Phone: 503-744-0914, Email:, Website:
    ** Update 16-Mar-2010: They take their tree removals and recycle them at the “goat farm”.  Sorry, no chips. Great eco-company regardless.
  • Mark Bourgeois, Arbor Pro Tree Experts, Phone:  503-473-TREE (8733), Website: – this man specifically told me to call his company and they would maintain a list, and if in my neighborhood may be able to donate mulch.
    ** Update 17-Feb-2013: They no longer do free mulch. Friendly group, so give ’em a call if you need an arborist!

Lastly, I’d call the Oregon City Hall to find out if they use a specific tree service and get that company’s name to call directly.

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Sustainability means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but in academia it focuses on balance.  Academia, more specifically, focuses on balancing the Economy with the Environment while always focusing on Equity.  What does that mean on a small scale, though?

It’s always so easy to criticize the Giant Corporation (McDonald’s, Ikea, Walmart) for the Evils they inflict upon the helpless little guy.  We often take refuge when we can “stick it to The Man.”  But, what opportunities are we forgoing on a personal scale?

Sustainability, then, means balance.  And one vision of that balance is found in Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia.  In his very thought provoking books, Callenbach details many ideas, one of which is the 20 hour work week.  What would happen if the government mandated no one work more than 20 hours per week.  What would our lives look like?

Recently, my family got sick with a nasty cold.  No, it’s not the Swine Flu (or Avian Flu, or Bird Flu, nor West Nile!), but it has laid us up!  We’ve been incapable of doing the most mundane chores around the house – like dishes and trying to figure out what’s for dinner because this Nasty Cold sapped our energy.  Last Friday, Levi and I spent the day snuggled in a blanket, on the couch, watching hours of OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting, PBS for Oregon).  I even endured Barney and his “I Love You” song because we lacked the energy to do anything different.  I had many high hopes for the first day Levi and I would spend together, alone, while Daddy was off learning how to be a mechanic.  Alas, life had other plans.

Remember, being sick is often nature’s way of saying, “Dude, you overdid it, and you need to take a break.”  “You need to rest, Dear,” Mother Nature gently reminds us with a bout of the Nasty Cold.

So we did.  We rested.  Levi and I watched T.V.  My body wouldn’t allow me to work on projects with deadlines looming.  Nasty Cold prevailed.

The irony of the situation is when other greenies forget these basic balance reminders.  We can argue the psychologies of selfishness, the fears of missing deadlines, the lack of trust the whole shebang screams… but the point is this – we must remember Balance.  When we preach balance of Nature’s Services, we can’t forget one of the most important… sleep well young one, you have a big day ahead of you.