Tag Archives: Social Consciousness

I Think I’ll Run for President

Since I believe that the two major party candidates currently running for the highest office in the land are in it for themselves and not the country (one more so than the other), I have no option left but to run for president.

Here, therefore, is my Common Sense Party’s platform. You will see that it is not one of issues, but of values.

bunting

Every proposed decision to be made by every person in my administration will hold that decision up to this set of six values to see if it holds true and is just:

  1. Life. The Declaration of Independence promises us Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This is bedrock of my candidacy. If what you propose to do does not promote, protect, and preserve life—all life, every life, in this country and around the world—it will not pass into law. This includes the legal slaughter which is war. This includes animals.
  1. Equality. We are all equal. Every person on this planet. Period.
  1. The Opportunity for Personal Growth. Every person needs the time to reflect, to dream, to contribute to society the art that is each personality and expressed in each life.
  1. Empathy. Hardliners will get nowhere with me.
  1. Compassion. The ability to see the other point of view is central to a peaceful society.
  1. Love for Humanity. What else is government for?

Okay, you know I’m just kidding. I’m not a candidate for any office. There is too much yarn out there to be knit up into soft, warm, beautiful items of comfort. There are too many tomatoes to be grown and eaten on my homemade bread. Too many stories that need to be told through my peculiar filter.

But I am serious about the values that our candidates promote. Especially the oft-touted “family values.” What are they? Can they articulate those values? Are they the same as my values? If not, why not? Even if they are only “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” do the candidates really believe in those values?

Once a candidate’s values are set, everything else about how they will govern becomes obvious.

We all know this is a very important election. Ask these questions of not only the national candidates, but your local candidates as well.

Choose wisely.

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Ten Things a Vegan Kitchen Must Have

So you’re new to veganism? Congratulations on embarking upon a journey to improve to the health of your family and our planet. They say that once you become vegan you continue to find reasons to stay vegan, and I have found that to be true. Sometimes, though the recipes you find call for what appear to be exotic ingredients. But the truth is, once you outfit your kitchen, you’ll find vegan cooking to be easy and delicious. I’ll address those exotic ingredients in another post. This post is about having the right tools for the job. These are my top ten.

  1. A Vitamix. I resisted buying an expensive Vitamix because I had a blender, and I just didn’t see the point. Boy, was I wrong! I bought mine reconditioned directly from the Vitamix website (vitamix.com) and I use it every day. Seriously. Every day. I have both the standard container that comes with it and I also bought the additional “dry mix” jar. I use the standard jar for everything from lunch smoothies to vegan salad dressings to the best hummus ever. I also make vegan iced desserts and soups that take less than ten minutes from start to finish. The dry mix jar I use for grinding coffee, flour, making matcha from my homegrown tea, turning dried peppers into cayenne powder, you name it. I can even make powdered sugar out of regular sugar, or brown sugar out of sugar and molasses. I can make cornmeal out of popcorn! The cost of the machine is nothing compared to the savings on expensive sauces, dressings and herbs. Unquestionably, a must have.

vitamix

  1. A rice cooker. I spent my formative years in Hawaii, so I am a rice eater. My husband (a Midwesterner) has to remind me now and then to bake him a potato, because I never think about it. Rice is nice. A simple, plain vanilla rice cooker is all you need, one that will cook your rice to perfection and then hold it warm while the rest of the meal is getting ready. There are expensive rice cookers with lots of bells and whistles including a steamer, but they’re not necessary. I buy all my grains in bulk, and mix them together in the canister. No one pot of rice is the same as the next. I mix together long grain brown rice, short grain brown rice, jasmine rice, wheatberries, barley, rye, bulgur, and sometimes I throw in some lentils and some dried soybeans. Scan what’s available in the grain section of your market. The result is a healthy, delicious mix that goes with almost any meal.
  1. A mandolin. There are many appliances for chopping vegetables on the market, and if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you probably either have or will acquire most of them. For my money, though, a mandolin is the most versatile. You don’t have to plug it in, it rinses off easily, takes up little space in the kitchen cabinet, and is always handy. Again, you can spend a lot of money on a fancy mandolin, but it isn’t necessary. Mine is old and wonderful, with interchangeable blades for grating, slicing both thick and thin, and something else that I’ve never tried. It might make matchstick potatoes, I’m not sure. In the fall harvest, I could not survive without the mandolin for slicing cucumbers for pickles, or slicing cabbages for slaw. Slicing potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables is a breeze. The blades are sharp, though, so always use caution.

mandolin

  1. A slow cooker. This is what I made for dinner last night: 2 cans water pack jackfruit (from the Asian market), one sliced onion, one sliced green pepper, ½ cup barbecue sauce. Cook all day on low and serve over bread or on a hearty roll. Vegan Sloppy Joe’s from heaven. I threw it all in the slow cooker in the morning and it cooked on low all day. Here’s what we’re having for dinner tonight: two cans of black beans, two yams, sliced thin (on the mandolin), one package of soy chorizo sausage, and 2 cups of enchilada sauce (don’t buy it, make your own http://ohsheglows.com/2016/01/31/enchilada-sauce/ ). Let these cook on low all day and then fill a tortilla and get ready for everybody to go nuts. The slow cooker is the vegan’s best friend. There are lots and lots of vegan slow cooker cookbooks, too, to get you started on your journey.
  1. A soymilk maker. This is without doubt the biggest money saver in my kitchen. It looks like a fat coffee pot and makes a quart of soymilk in about 18 minutes from 1/3 cup of dried soybeans and some water. You can do the math on how much a quart of homemade soymilk costs, compared to what it costs in the store. Load these two ingredients into the pot, plug it in, and it cooks and grinds the beans. Mine came with a strainer and a pitcher. Strain out the soy okara (the dog loves that on her morning kibble) and voila! Delicious soy, rice, or almond milk. Dried soybeans are easily found in your health food store. I buy them in the bulk bins, and whenever possible, I get them in 25 pound bags. Between baking, our over-consumption of coffee, and morning oatmeal (made overnight every night in the slow cooker), we go through a lot of soymilk in this house.

soymilkmaker

  1. A good knife and a good knife sharpener. Vegans do a lot of vegetable chopping. There is nothing more frustrating than a dull knife. And, in fact, dangerous. We cut ourselves when the knife is dull, because we use too much pressure. Invest in a good chef’s knife and a good paring knife. Go to the knife store and spend some money, because these will last you not only for the rest of your life, but for the lives of whoever is lucky enough to inherit them. Once you have invested in fine cutlery, take care of it. Never leave a fine knife soaking in the sink. Never put it in the dishwasher. Wash it, dry it, and put it away. Have a small, simple, effective knife sharpener handy in a kitchen drawer that you can easily access to put a fine edge on your knife at a moment’s notice. You’ll be safer, and you’ll be happier.
  1. Pantry space. I know, space is always limited. But there are items that vegans use often enough that it is worth the fight for a few shelves in the garage. While I buy many items in the bulk bins at the health food store, I buy big bags (25-40 pounds) of pinto beans, soybeans, steel cut oats, and long-grain brown rice. Cooking dry beans is far more economical than opening a can. It’s good to have the option. I keep a container of “refried” beans (that I make in the slow cooker) on the top shelf in the refrigerator to add to just about everything. Not only are beans good for us, but a daily spoonful feeds the flora and fauna in our bellies so we don’t suffer from the uncomfortable gas that can occur when we only eat beans once a week or so. I buy cans of beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce by the case as well as a few other staples that we use all the time.
  1. A library of good vegan cookbooks. I have declared a moratorium on buying vegan cookbooks. I have about twenty, and that’s enough. Although… there is always something new from one or another of my favorite authors. There are cookbooks (and websites!) for every household. Vegan casseroles. Slow cooker recipes. Standard European dishes made vegan (French, German, etc.) Ditto with Asian dishes. I have learned the wonders of Indian spices. It took me a while to get the hang of vegan baking, but with the help of a great cookbook, and some advice from friends, I can now bake with the best of them without using dairy or eggs. I annotate every recipe, always improving on it for our tastes, and I highlight ones I like in the book’s Index, so I can easily find them again. These days I’m using a different cookbook every week, so I can get more depth of insight into the author’s way of thinking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  1. A group of like-minded friends. So this isn’t a kitchen staple, but it is a lifestyle necessity. When I first joined the ranks of the vegan, I found a Meetup (meetup.com) group in my home town and began going to the events. I found a great community of interesting and interested people, and I learned a lot. We watched videos on nutrition, on agribusiness, we cooked together, shared tips and tricks, talked about new foods to try, and what to avoid in the grocery store. This is where I learned about the convenience of the right appliance, and the best tried and true cookbooks. I learned more about nutrition in this group than I had learned in my entire life heretofore. I found my new guru in Dr. Michael Greger (www.nutritionfacts.org), and his fact-base nutrition information. My vegan friends are happy, fun, and the light of health shines in their eyes.

The vegan lifestyle is a good one. Healthy, planet-friendly, animal-friendly, and a good choice. With the right support of friends and the right kitchen tools, this way of life can be one of the best decisions you have ever made.

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Filed under Diet, Uncategorized

Dear Mr. President:

Dear Mr. President:

As the leader of the greatest nation in the world, I implore you to set politics aside and do the right thing on a variety of issues. Forget Congress. Introduce legislation and let the angels and other celestial planetary advisers do the heavy lifting with regards to encouraging congressional members to do the right thing. Take your case to the American people. They will recognize sustainable changes when they see them.

  1. No more war. Our Department of Defense is for the defense of the citizens. It is not a department of offense. Bring our soldiers home, close foreign bases and spend that money here. War is not sustainable. It is stupid, wasteful and against every spiritual principle there is. We can take a stand of non-engagement.
  2. No more casual, haphazard and wasteful use of finite resources such as fossil fuels. This is irresponsible for our future. Put a harsh progressive tax on these resources and let that inspire and provide incentive for the great minds of American entrepreneurs to come up with inventive ways to create nonpolluting energy sources.
  3. Pollution is ruining our planet and sickening our people. Be bold in legislative regulation of pollutants, regardless of what other countries are doing. We must lead in this regard.
  4. Outlaw cigarettes. It’s crazy that we spend so much money on health care for sick smokers while subsidizing the tobacco industry.
  5. Introduce legislation that allows for term limits in congress. Your office has a term limit; so should each seat in the House and the Senate. The gridlock we are currently experiencing would never happen if there were term limits in congress.

I know that you know that this list could go on and on. We need common sense leadership with an eye not for this term or the next term or for our grandchildren, but we need a visionary who can look 500 years into the future and make plans for our planet that are sustainable. We can’t just keep kicking these cans down the road because it is politically expedient.

Be bold, Mr. President. Be brave. Lead the world.

God Bless.

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Filed under politics, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality

Who’s to Blame?

I heard this on television the other day: All the oil that has spewed forth into the Gulf of Mexico to date equals what the US burns in one hour.

I also heard this: While the US comprises 2% of world population, we consume 25% of the world’s energy resources.

I do not vouch for those statistics, although I don’t doubt their validity.

My point is this: We are quick to vilify British Petroleum, but they are only doing what we asked them to do. More oil, please, and make it quick. My car is thirsty. I have to fly to Europe for a wine tasting.  I’m moving to the country, so my kids can breathe clean air, even though now my commute is a gasoline-guzzling hour and a half every day.

There’s no question that BP was horrendously irresponsible and unforgivably lax in their safety measures. I am not absolving them of their heinous actions. But we need to take a very close look at our own culpability in this mess.

Americans don’t like regulations, because we want our freedoms. Well, we have the freedom to be irresponsible about our oil consumption, just like we have the freedom to be irresponsible about our personal debt, our birth rate, and our health. What’s it going to take for us to use less energy? Government rationing?  Enormous taxes on petroleum products?

Well, we’re going to have to change our lifestyles, because oil is a finite commodity. Doesn’t anybody realize that there are only 15,500 days left to the END of oil? (www.worldometers.info) And that is at today’s rate of consumption, but at a net population gain of around 175,000 people per day, what are the chances of that?

Who are we going to blame when the oil is gone? Or, since I’ll be dead in fewer than 15,500 days, what do I care? It’ll be someone else’s problem then. Well, of course I care, and so should you. Stop looking at BP and start looking at yourself.

If we are unable or unwilling to control our gluttony, then perhaps it’s time for someone else to regulate our behavior.  And when that day comes, we’ll have nobody to blame but ourselves.

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Filed under Discipline, Social Consciousness

Aren’t We Lucky?

I grew up in a white, middle-class neighborhood. My dad had a good job; my mom was a homemaker, I have one brother and one sister, we had a dog and a cat, two cars and a house with a nice lawn. We went to the lake in the summer. 

All through my childhood, I was told how lucky I was. How privileged. How grateful I should be that I wasn’t born in a desolate, disease-ridden part of the world, to poor parents, starving, uneducated. And I was grateful. I still am grateful.

But that’s not enough any more. I have come to believe that The Powers That Be knew of my gifts and talents long before I was born and they put me into a privileged situation so that I wouldn’t have to scrape for food on a daily basis, but instead could be free to contemplate how best to utilize my gifts and talents to serve those less fortunate. 

I wish this had been the message given to me my whole life. I would have structured things differently, voted differently, allocated resources differently, written about different things, put my energies into different endeavors. I have come to believe that the celestial advisors are looking to me — and you — to see what we have done with the incredible opportunities we have been given. Do we use our intellect and our wealth for altruistic purposes? Or does it just fuel our greed? Are we miserly with our resources, or generous? Are we happy, joyous and free? Or bitchy and miserable to be around?

I look around and I’m ashamed. I’m embarrassed. People who profess their faith are not acting accordingly. How can we let people starve? How can we let people die for lack of medicine, or mosquito netting over their beds? How can we recklessly squander our resources and then look to those who have marshalled their resources wisely to save us?

How can we send our young people off to war?

Really. We’re sending people off to war?

Shouldn’t we be a little further along than this?

I’m searching my soul today, considering what I can do to uplift the terribly sad state of our world. If I listen carefully, I’m certain I’ll hear a suggestion that I can accomplish today. One small person doing one small thing of faith, for the betterment of my spiritual brothers and sisters.  And if you do one small thing, too, that would double my efforts.

Eventually, we could have ten billion small people doing ten billion small things for each other. Every day. Don’t you think that would make a difference?

Let’s do it.

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Filed under disappointment, Discipline, dreams, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality

Responsibility Takes a Vacation

Okay, class, so what did we learn about the Wall Street greed merchants? That they have to be monitored. That the concept of a free market doesn’t work so well when people are out for themselves, which, in a way, we all are. We need to be supervised, so we don’t throw the whole blasted world into turmoil trying to get what we want.

This is kind of a familiar scenario, isn’t it? The “Not In My Backyard” people, the “I’ll get mine” people, the “If it’s legal…” people, the “I’ll sue you for that” people, and the worst of all (in my never-humble opinion): “If I can, I will.”

Well. Just because we can does not mean we should.

Case in point: The woman who just gave birth to eight kids. She now has fourteen children under the age of 8. Guess who’s paying for 8 critical infants in neonatal care? That’s right. You and me. Even if she has insurance, our rates will go up because of this.

Because there is nobody watching this particular type of heinous greed. Putting checks on our oh-so-valuable reproductive rights is a very unpopular, Hitler-esque concept. Do you think this mother and her husband can afford to attend to the needs of fourteen children without the help of the state? I don’t. Even if they pull it off with donations for now, what about later?

What doctor authorized the implantation of eight embryos to a woman with six children? He should be arrested for this crime, even though it is not yet on the books. And then we should put it on the books.

Overpopulation is killing us. It is stretching our resources to the breaking point, ruining wildlife habitat, and heating up our planet.

I say it’s time to regulate the ridiculous fertility business. Perhaps if those who were unable to have children didn’t have children, population would stabilize. Infertility could very well be nature’s way of saying we’ve had enough babies for now. 

I remember Zero Population Growth whose rallying cry was for each pair of people to have two children, just enough to replace themselves. Well, Wall Street has shown us that we won’t do that. If we wait for the socially-conscious to do the right thing there, we’ll all drown in our own effluent.  The socially conscious among us will have two children and those who don’t neuter their pit bulls and live with tires in their front yards will breed indiscriminately.

We can’t count on ourselves to do the right thing.

Isn’t that a shame?

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Filed under politics, Social Consciousness

ZPG

Seems like the sky is falling.

Housing values are going down, credit is tightening up, ethanol is taking all our corn, illegal immigrants are sucking the life out of our schools and health care industry, most of us have no health insurance, the war in Iraq is killing our young men, some cities are out of drinking water, we can’t keep the wolves out of our sheep, and danger lurks behind every tree.

And yet nobody addresses the issue of overpopulation.

I remember a time when ZPG was a rallying cry. Zero Population Growth. (There was even a movie.) Every couple should have two children, just enough to replace themselves. Why is this so politically incorrect these days? Is it because those of social conscience do just that while others breed indiscriminately, skewing the population toward those of less social conscience? What are we afraid of here, exactly? Retaining the reproductive rights of those bad mothers who have their children taken away from them as quickly as they can pop them out? Or is it a religious thing?

It seems to me that reducing our population has the potential of curing almost every ill we currently face.

Maybe there should be incentives for smaller families. And while we’re at it, we don’t need to honor “anchor babies” of illegal aliens as automatic US citizens. Babies born to American mothers in Mexico aren’t automatically Mexican citizens. We need to deal with that issue pronto, and I guess a few letters to our congressmen might get that ball rolling.

But back to the issue at hand. Zero Population Growth. Even the old ZPG nonprofit foundation has moderated itself, now called “Population Connection.” Why would that be? The old ZPG philosophy too radical for today’s tender people?

Seems to me that if we don’t moderate ourselves a little bit, and rein in the reproductive perogatives, we’re going to be in increasing trouble.

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Filed under Social Consciousness