Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

May something deliciously ghoulish come your way today :)

(Image from Daily Dose of Imagery)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Taking a Breather

I just had a miscarriage on Tuesday, so I'm going to be away from the blogosphere for a while.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Free Burma, Boycott the Olympics

Buddhist monks are amazing people and happily I'm not the only one who thinks so. The Free Burma campaign recently received some more power allies including 20 former world leaders, the United Nations Security Council and Nobel prize-winner Desmond Tutu, who is one among many calling for a ban on the upcoming Olympics if China doesn't step up regarding the Burma situation.

The great thing about this move is that China is freaked out about it, which might actually mean something might happen. There are very few times in history that a lot of people have taken the time to get together about something really worthwhile. And if saving monks isn't worthy, then I don't know what is.

Please take a moment to email the Olympic organizers ( and tell them that the Olympic games should not associate their 'One World, One Dream' policy with China's attempt to block an UN ban rather than stop selling arms shipments to a military regime that only uses the weapons on their own people. Tell China and the Olympics organizers that the slaughter of innocent monks and civilians is not acceptable and join the Olympic boycott because something as simple as an email may be the reason why someone on the other side of the world is able to keep on living.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

How To Lose Weight and Feel Better (with little to no effort)

Surprising, I know, considering that most ways of losing weight include putting a great deal of stress on the body, but it turns out that one of the simplest weight-loss tricks I know also just happens to be really good for you for other reasons to.

I'll start by telling you my weight-loss tip, which, unfortunately, I don't remember where I found originally. The trick is that if you mix a capful of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and drink it before bed every night, you will start to lose weight. It helps if you are exercising somewhat regularly, but it works on its own too. Neat, right? And cheaper than any diet pill you could ever purchase.

Plus, it's better for you than ingesting the faux-speed of diet pills. According to Get Fit Stay Fit, the potassium derived from apple cider vinegar is vital for cells to maintain normal growth and replacement:

Apple cider vinegar has a potent supply of potassium, which has become so widely acclaimed in the helping of various complaints including: running nose, excessive mucous formation, watery eyes, sinus and catarrhal troubles. Tooth decay and the splitting of fingernails are also signs of potassium deficiency which are remedied by taking cider vinegar. ... It is as important to the soft tissues, as calcium is to the bones and teeth and it also retards the hardening of the blood vessels. ... Potassium acts as a restraining influence upon those who are over-excitable and nervous. It draws fluid back into the cells, for when potassium is lacking the body cells shrink and their normal activity is restricted.
I don't know about you guys, but this is the kind of 2-for-1 kind of deal that I just can't pass up. It's back to swigging the ole cider before bedtime for me!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Grease Clogs Up Johnson County

Local journalist Finn Bullers (who recently covered Bridging The Gap's National Public Lands Day event) published an article in the Kansas City Star on Sunday about the massive grease problem in Johnson County's sewer system. Just one more reason why a sustainable KC Metro region will be better for all of us.

With its upscale shops and high-priced hops, the intersection of 119th Street and Roe Avenue is a bull’s-eye of suburban affluence in Greater Kansas City.

It’s also a heart attack waiting to strike.

Lurking below the Leawood intersection — with its cluster of restaurants and residents — are sewer lines choked with a nasty mix of waste and grease that threaten to trigger a major infarction.

It happened in 1998. And it could happen again.

“There was so much grease in the line it literally blew out the manhole lid. It caused a backup and overflowed something fierce,” said Betsy Betros, Johnson County’s director of pollution control.

“Putrefying grease is just an awful smell. But get that mixed with sewage and it’s beyond description.”

Today, 119th and Roe tops the county’s top 10 list of locations most plagued by grease clogs.

It seems our love affair with crab rangoon, chimichangas and seared sirloin has left unpleasant deposits underneath our sprawling metropolis.

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: Simple Steps to Save the Planet

Today is blog action day: a day for bloggers to band together in focusing on environmental concerns. What I'm going to talk about is my employer and the KC Metro region's action and education environmental non-profit: Bridging The Gap. Working here has inspired my current super-charged push for a green lifestyle and I've just got all sorts of a shit-eating grin on when I think about the amazing things we're able to do as an organization.

But first, I'll give you a little bit of background. Bridging The Gap (BTG) started as a grassroots organization to address social issues being neglected by other agencies. The first project the group took on was bringing curbside recycling to Kansas City, MO but curbside just wouldn't catch on. So instead, Bridging The Gap decided to facilitate community recycling centers. The centers led to the group's concern about educating the people who used the centers about other ways of being sustainable and the education component of BTG was born.

Since then we've come a long way. BTG has re-defined itself as an environmental organization that acts as an umbrella for several affiliates and programs including:

Instead of being focused on just recycling, we're taking on the issue of sustainability in any and all ways we can. These include green consulting, identifying energy sources from waste streams, connecting local farms to local grocery stores, organizing litter clean-up, tree care and other similar events, and, most importantly, empowering individuals to make simple steps towards sustainability.

Some of these include:
  • Joining or contributing to an environmental organization
  • Use a litter bag and sun shade in your car to reduce litter and AC use
  • Drive less and walk more
  • Support businesses close to where you live
  • Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator to save cooking time and energy
  • Wash clothes in cold water
  • Avoid cooking with an oven and use a toaster oven or microwave instead
  • Use natural sunlight for lighten whenever possible
  • Let leftovers cool before placing them in the refrigerator to save energy
  • Use compact florescent light fixtures
  • Use sponges and cleaning rags instead of paper towels
  • Use cloth nakpins and reusable plates and silverware to reduce waste
  • Plant native plants that will attract wildlife
  • Install an insulation blanket on your hot water heater
  • Replace all dripping faucets in sinks
Try choosing just one or two of these ideas to integrate into your lifestyle. It will allow you to start doing something immediately to better the lives of everyone sharing your environment without completely overturning your life. As a bonus, most of these will also save you money so there's really no way to lose.

For more simple steps you can take, see the Action Blog's list of 50 Quick, Painless Ways You Can Help the Environment Today.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

I Am What I Eat

I'm finally following up on my previous post about BBC America's show You Are What You Eat in which I promised to track what I ate for a week. Unfortunately, I was delayed from doing this for a couple of weeks because of a family emergency, but all last week I was faithfully writing down everything that passed my lips. Today, we get to see the results. The image to the left is representative of the lifestyle that Gillian recommends with lots of lean meat and raw fruits and vegetables. I don't measure up to that standard very well, I'm afraid.

Let's take a look:

  • 1 medium chicken breast
  • 2 sausage links
  • ¼ cup chicken alfredo pasta
  • 2 cups baked penne pasta with sausage, mushrooms and peppers
  • 1 cup chicken korma
  • ¾ chicken parmesan sandwich
  • 1 Chipotle chicken sandwich
  • 3 small grilled steaks
  • 1/3 cup seasoned brown rice
  • ½ cup basmati rice
  • 2 scrambled eggs
  • ¼ cup hash browns
  • 18 Quakes flavored rice snacks
  • 1 small mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad
  • 5 breadsticks
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bowl vegetarian fiesta con queso soup
  • 4 bites of spice cake with whipped cream
  • 1 Santa Fe chimichanga
  • 1 fried mozzarella stick
  • ½ bowl of Maple Pecan Crunch cereal
  • 1 ½ cup of shelled pistachios
  • I King size Fast Break
  • 1 avocado & jack cheese omelet
  • ½ cup of hash browns
  • ½ biscuit with butter
  • 1 cup alfredo pasta
  • 1 organic red pear
  • 1 organic granny smith apple
  • 2 cups of vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup of chocolate pudding
  • ¼ cup raw mozzarella
  • 1 bowl tomato soup
  • 1 bowl chicken fajita soup
  • 20 rosemary & olive oil triscuits
  • ½ caramelized apple w/ brown sugar
I also took the following supplements:
And, I drank and ass-load of water, but I didn't calculate how much because I'm constantly drinking it (here's a big Thank You to my mom for instilling that in me when I was a kid).

As you can see, I don't have the worst diet right now, but it has loads of room for improvement. One of the things that bothered me after looking at this list was how few vegetables and raw food I actually eat. I decided to change that and this week I've been making myself sandwiches with avocado, 3 kinds of peppers, spinach, and soy cheese on 7 wheat bread for lunch so it's a start. I'll keep slowly working my way to kicking out more red meat and dairy while adding in more raw and organic foods. Some day I hope to be one of those people who smells noticeably different from others because of their diet (as I've experienced a few times because of super-healthy friends). I think that would rawk.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gunning for the Buddha

Buddhism is fascinating in all its forms and philosophies. With good reason, the West has been fascinated with this aspect of Eastern culture for a long time and it seems like we're always finding ways of adapting it to our own. That's certainly the case with Michael Jasper and his short story, "Gunning for the Buddha."

This narrative stems from and is a meditation on Master Linji's koan which states: "If you meet the Buddha, kill him." The main character, whose name we never learn, describes how she has had to kill the Buddha over and over again in a life-long attempt to quell the chaos. The story opens with her picking up a hitch-hiking Buddha so that she can throw him off of a bridge before she and her friends teleport to another place and time.

Sound interesting enough for you yet? This story touches on loss in our society as we have experienced it through war and hatred without becoming nauseating, incorporates science fiction and philosophy in a seamless manner and just won't leave your head for a very long time.
I highly recommend you read it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Artist Interview: BellZ

As previously mentioned, I have much love for deviantART. Through it, I found an artist who under the nom de plume BellZ creates vividly striking photographs, drawings and dolls. Since then, BellZ has abandoned deviantART and moved to livejournal and Flickr where you can keep up-to-date on the continuing creativity.

What is the significance of "BellZ"?

I used to be a fan of Matthew Bellamy, whose 'petname' was Bells. I changed one sign. Got used to this. And was too lazy to think a better nickname then.

Your style is very distinctive and unique. How did you come to work with the mediums and subjects that you use? How has your style evolved?

When I was sixteen my mom gave me a very simple camera Panasonic Lumix \3 megapixels\ as a present. I started taking pictures, Margaret supported me. I never attended any art school or studio, I don't know famous photographers and their techniques that's why I guess I avoided the influence. As for sculpting, I can say, that when I was a child, I used to sculpt from plasticine a lot. I think those who worked with Soviet plasticine can work with any other material...... Also, there is no "coming to use some media/subject". I use what we have. Like, in shops here in Latvia. We don't have any special materials for sale and if there are some imported, I don't have the money to buy them.
You've had some problems with people imitating and/or stealing your work. Is there anything you'd like to say about that?

Two years ago I'd say that was bad and stole those poor people's individuality. Half a year ago I'd say "the more people have no personal ideas and stole other's ideas, the easier it is to create something really unique for normal people". In that case now I can say that everyone who once stole any idea is worth to get his testicules cut and eat them. Though we shall remember that we all began from trying to copy our idols. It's normal. Yet when one copies another and doesn't realize that - that's even worse.

Margaret seems to be a constant inspiration to you. How has she affected your art?

Margaret is the only one from those who are close to me right now, who knew me before I became cool and known to someone else except my friends (well, I didn't even have any then). When we "met" each other on the Internet she didn't even know how I looked like. I didn't shoot anything or make anything special. I just was. We made friends and then became extremely close. When I've been making my first ridiculous attempts in photography and drawing - she always supported me and cheered me up. She always gave me some good advise or idea. She, herself, is a very creative person with her own wonderful ideas and she helps me if I need. That's great. I wouldn't become what I became without her. That's true. I hope, I inspire her as well, at least sometimes… Also, she's a beautiful girl and an excellent model. My best one. I love to shoot her more than everyone. Of course it is inspiring!

What do you enjoy making the most?

Film shots of people whom I love. With my Zenit camera.What do you want someone to know about your creations if they didn't know anything else?

I often tell people who don't know anything about my hobbies and my life about my creations. At my university, for example. Some married woman asks me what I do at my spare time and I say: "I make pictures and dolls!". And I feel like I'm a fool. And she looks down at me like I'm a fool.

Somehow... I'm inclined to disagree.
All images copyright BellZ

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Old Paintings Gain a New Use

To me, art is an integral part of life and a natural expression of the collective unconscious. Some people think of art as something pretty and worthless... and some people think of art as being just one more tool for a scientific process. The National Observatory of Athens is doing just that by studying old master paintings for clues of past natural disasters:

Christos Zerefos, who led the research, said: "We're taking advantage of the attitudes of famous painters to portray real scenes they were looking at. This is the first attempt to analyse this old art in a scientific way, and tells the story of how our climate has varied naturally in the past."

The team found 181 artists who had painted sunsets between 1500 and 1900. The 554 pictures included works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Hogarth. They used a computer to work out the relative amounts of red and green in each picture, along the horizon. Sunlight scattered by airborne particles appears more red than green, so the reddest sunsets indicate the dirtiest skies.
The experiment yielded results similar to those predicted from other historical observations so this method may be used in further research with paintings from the 20th century. It all goes to prove my point that if you just leave something old around for a while it will be come valuable in unprecedented ways. And that's all I have to say about that.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Drive XV: A Tribute to R.E.M.

To follow up on their "10 year cover tribute of the Radiohead classic OK Computer," has now put out another cover tribute album which they're calling Drive XV. This compilation features artists like the Meat Puppets and Rogue Wave covering R.E.M.'s Automatic For the People.

Check out the songs over at Stereogum website and get a free download, read the liner notes and leave opinionated comments. Don't forget that's what the internet is for!

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Move Over, YouTube!

I have much love for deviantART and now they've gone and gotten even better by adding film to their repertoire. As if hosting all sorts of indie artists' wasn't cool enough, now we'll get a chance to see indie film makers showing off their stuff as well.

This is way better than watching Star Wars kid another time... or that creepy Britney fan. See what some real talent can do with a camera for a change.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Free Burma

Free Burma!

Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time

Snarkarati has published a list of the Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time based on ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and the Internet Movie Database. Some of them are ones that you'd generally expect to be on the list (Soylent Green and Logan's Run, for instance) and others are pretty surprising (like Pleasantville and The Running Man, c'mon, really?!) but all in all it's a great way to celebrate sci-fi geekery.

How many have you seen? Do you really think they should all be on there?

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

October Brings Decency & Reading

October, as it turns out, is playing hostess to some awesome stuff this year. October is Fair Trade month, hosted by Fair Trade Certified: a non-profit organization working to bring about fair pricing and labor conditions, direct trade, democratic and transparent organizations, community development and environmental sustainability. So many different shades of awesome! Check out their website (or The Green Guide) to find out about how you can purchase Fair Trade Certified products and look for Fair Trade Certified labels at your local stores. There's also a Fair Trade Certified blog to keep you up-to-date on ways to use your purchasing power for good.

For the lovely citizens of Kansas City, there's even more excitement afoot this month! A 'city-wide book club' is being hosted by the Kansas City Public Library. According to the library website, The Big Read Celebration "aims to encourage Kansas Citians to read, enjoy, contemplate, and discuss Hemingway's landmark novel of love and war on the Italian Front during the First World War. The program period coincides with the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Caporetto, a devastating Italian defeat that served as a climactic moment in A Farewell to Arms. More than 500 free paperback copies of A Farewell to Arms will be distributed to interested participants." Line up to get your free copy now and then join in some of the many events including discussion groups, film screenings, and various neighborhood events. I'll look forward to discussing Papa's work with you.

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Monday, October 1, 2007

One In A Million: What Can You Do?

90% of people in the world want to act immediately to stop global warming, but I know many feel as if they can't make a difference. Big Green Purse is here to prove you wrong. By helping you track green purchases the "One In A Million" Campaign will reveal how your purchasing power can be a force for change.

The more money you spend on green products, the more you encourage manufacturers to reduce pollution, save energy and water, use less packaging and protect natural areas.

In fact, if a million women intentionally shift at least $1000 of their existing budget to environmentally-friendly products, we can have a noticeable ONE BILLION DOLLAR IMPACT in the marketplace.
Sign up to keep a balance sheet of your green purchases and watch how easily you can spend $1,000 on something positive! If you're still hesitant, check out Diane's Big Green Purse blog to see how easy it was for her.

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