Archive for October, 2009

A stamped envelope

Friday, October 30th, 2009


Nana Ruth taught me to write letters.  Many years ago she encouraged me to write to companies after enjoying a product or a stay or an encounter;  more so than when I was disenchanted.  It makes you look for good, inquire of names,  and jot things down.  When your looking for good you find it.  I’ve enjoyed this lesson and have received free loaves of bread, smiles, and plain ole good karma.  I’m so glad she taught me to write letters.

We stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Naples Florida  for my birthday last year.  I felt like everyone who worked there was only interested in me enjoying my birthday.  I made a point of remembering the names of staff members who wished me a happy birthday greeting as we passed in the halls, or as we played ping pong provided more coffee, or brought us another towel by the pool.  They knew my name?!    I felt like a celebrity.

when I smile

There was a beastly woman with an older man by the pool. She was loud and rude to the pool attendant, who continued to accommodate her until she finally quieted down and settled into a spot that suited her.   I would have snatched the towel out from under her repugnant self and wrapped it around her neck, but, he remained kind and accommodating.  I wrote a letter and included his name and the names of other exceptional staff members, and received a printed response with a little hand written personal note stating that a copy of my letter had been given to each named staff member personally.

The Ritz made it very easy for me to do this.  In our room there was a stamped envelope with their address on it.  During my drive home I wrote the letter and filled out their form and mailed it back.  Of course there is an online version as well, but, I like the handwritten option.

Congressman Boozeman always writes me back a personal note in his own writing with a blue pen at the bottom of a pre-scripted printed page.  I don’t always agree with him, and that is usually what I am telling him, but I am impressed that he includes a personal note explaining his thinking. I bring it to work and share it so others can see his handwritten note and that it does make a difference to “write your congressman”.  Senators Lincoln and Pryor respond via e-mail — sometimes.

Dan and Chip Heath wrote In America alone, there are about 2.7 million call-center employees who are standing by ready to soothe you. That’s roughly the population of Kansas. But what if you’ve got joy in your heart? Good luck finding someone who cares.

That’s a tragedy on multiple levels, first for the employees who never receive your warm fuzzies. Pick any non-customer-service employee at random from your company. When was the last time that person received positive feedback directly from a customer? If the answer is “never,” that’s as cruel as an unwatered plant.

I have worked as a travel nurse in various hospitals for several years.  One hospital in Boca Raton Florida stands out in my mind because patients wrote letters to the hospital telling them how wonderful we were.  Sometimes my name was included with the names of others and we each received a personal copy.  I saved them.  I was only there for six months, but, collected more letters of appreciation than all the other places combined.  I don’t think I was a better nurse there.   What is it about Boca Hospital that makes people write letters of appreciation?  Did the hospital make it easier for the patients to write compliments?  Were they given a stamped envelope?

Companies should pave the way to praise.  Maybe you appreciate the extra-deep cup holder in your Toyota, which holds your venti latte snugly. Where do you send the thank-you note?

One last little story.  Seth was working at an airline counter at Miami International Airport.  I had just arrived from Dallas after missing my flight to Ft Myers due to weather.  It was very important for me to be in Ft Myers that night because my son had been in a motorcycle accident and was on life support with multiple injuries including brain injury.  It was the worst 22 hours of my life just trying to get to him in a February snow storm.

Airline personnel just fell into a category of cold and uncaring that night, the more I cried, the more they didn’t care.  I’m sure they have listened to many sob stories and they weren’t moved by mine–> then I met Seth.  He was in their ranks until I quietly explained my situation without tears.   Seth arranged for a van to drive me to Ft Myers since no flights were leaving until the next morning.  During the ride over I wrote the airlines and told them what a Godsend Seth had been.  I don’t remember, now, what airline Seth worked for, they never responded; but,  I will always remember Seth.

my apologies

Scary stuff from China

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

I read about the folks who are against healthcare reform they seem to belong to the same pile of people who are against cleaning up the environment.  The common denominator seems to be they don’t like the costs of these humanitarian interventions.  Talk about jab my eyes out!  Is it that they figure some people and places are just expendable?  They are poor and uneducated and someone has to clean up our mistakes and make our chemicals.  Look at these pictures from China.  This would seem to exemplify the cost of not caring.

yangtze pollution

So when you are shopping for a toy for your favorite tot and you notice that it was made in China.  Remember this picture of plastic factory waste going in to what was once a beautiful river.

even more yangtze pollution

Next time you buy an Iphone, computer or various other electronics and some jewelry remember this titanium plant.

Without rules a nations people are allowed to suffer.  Without activism the suffering continues.  Our country allows activism and yet some refer to those activists as socialists.  I don’t get it.

chinese orphans

chinese child and her grandfather

Don’t blame this horridness on the people of China.  Just like here there are good people trying to do good things to advocate for the health and happiness of all people.  Not just those who can afford good health and happiness.  Please see the entire article and all the photos at

Tim Gummer says:

2009/10/24 at 7:55 pm

If it wasn’t already obvious, then it is surely clear here that our Stuff is made in a Mordor of this very earth, by a people in slavery. In a globalized world, our complicity in their deaths and suffering is no less than those who stood by in the towns of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. These workers’ horrors may be marginally less, but unlike the deathcamps’ neighbours, we cannot pretend we have not seen.


Monday, October 19th, 2009

dinosaur extinction finally explained

The thoughts of this person are worth sharing.  There is a book called The Case for God by Karen Armstrong.  Ms Armstrong spent seven years as a nun in a Roman Catholic order.  The italicized commentary is from a person known as “Johannes”.

Johannes says:

October 6, 2009

There’s a tendency to disparage people who believe in God as weak, groveling sheep. Kindness is often equated to weakness. It’s easy to debunk evangelical Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Quakers, Gnostic tradition or Episcopalians. But let us not forget that Western mathematicians Goedel, Newton, Gauss or scholars like Emerson, Kierkegaard, and more had their own particular way of discovering what God meant to them. Kierkegaard was an affluent depressed Danish philosopher who wrote some very interesting papers on faith. He loved his woman so much that he didn’t marry her.  He didn’t want her to have to deal with his depression.  He wrote that faith can only exist where there is doubt. You don’t have to have faith in a table because you can see it and feel it and put stuff on it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson lost his memory in later years and it embarrassed him.  I once read that fish have no memory and that is why it is OK for them to live in a bowl.  Every time they swim to the other side of the bowl there is a whole fascinating and undiscovered world.  I had a betta fish in a bowl on my desk here. I was so sad when he died.  I used to put a mirror next to his bowl sometimes and he would try to fight his reflection.  No one taught him to fight it was just innately in him to do so.  I think some people are like that.

I’m getting off track.

 Christianity is more complex and God was often viewed as aphotic (dark, nebulous, somber)  than  as a paternal deliverer of goodness to your prayers.   One of her main points indeed is that both logic and myth have their place in thought, just as reason and emotion have their place in humanity. otherwise we’d be conformist robots.  We’d run around killing and pillaging those who don’t think like us. I think they call that religious wars.

If you ever studied advanced mathematics (beyond the standard calculus or linear algebra), there are places where “logic” becomes less insightful — Russell’s paradox is an example or invoking Zorn’s lemma just to create something as basic as counting (natural) numbers. What does it mean to the mind that there are different sizes of “infinity”? Yet Cantor, who formalized set theoretic foundations of all modern mathematics, proved that indeed we do have different orders of infinity. when you look up Bertrand Russell, Max Zorn, and Georg Cantor you read some pretty heady stuff.  Brilliance and depression seemed to hang out together.   Most of us can be glad we’re not that brilliant.

Blanket rejection of faith in such a smug, strident attitude is rather sad and unappreciative of the beauty of a free mind engaging in something fully outside the limited realms of “self.” I think Johannes is trying to tell us to “step outside our own box”;  But, do we then step into the box of someone else?

Yes, there is doubt, but faith without doubt is mere credulity as Kierkegaard posits. Faith is not to simply overcome doubt, but it, like love, transcends rationality. Religion ought to be more than just a set of logical beliefs, as music is more than just notes on a page and dry theory or mere vibrations or life is more than books, theories, and philosophers. The theory came after the experience, to explain and justify and to share. I love what Johannes says here. Love is something you can’t see or prove, the color yellow is something you can’t describe to a blind person, yet they exist.

Religion is embodied in practice, in action, in process with something greater than yourself. The existence of God is not so much a falsifiable hypothesis, and the semantics of language obfuscate much communication. Religious zealots, the oil industry and the GMO industry hire lobbyists who do an incredible job of obfuscation. Show me where “love” exists. Show me where “music” exists. Show me where “beauty” is. There are many things outside the faculty of logic and language. Be humble and grateful that there is more. I am


I’m glad there are scientists and philosophers busy trying to find out why a pear smells like a pear or why the beautiful colors represented in this photograph happen.  I guess it all fits in the periodic table somewhere.

My point is Faith should not be mocked because it is based on doubt.  Faith is the driver for scientists and activists and incredible discoveries that people have made through all the recorded eras.  Faith and prayer saved my son.  I believe in the incredible power of faith.


Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

After a free labor day meal, the polystyrene containers that filled the garbage cans were painful to see.  Their usefulness lasted for 1/2 hour and their time in the landfill (polystyrene isn’t recycled) will last for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years.



Did you know styrofoam AKA polystyrene, AKA plastic #6 is manufactured using benzene, from coal; styrene, from petroleum; and ethylene, a “blowing agent”.  The main manufacturing route to styrene is the direct catalytic dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene: If you understand that and want more detail go to…

Long-term exposure to styrene in humans results in effects on the central nervous system (CNS), such as headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression, CNS dysfunction, hearing loss, and peripheral neuropathy. This only happens after long term exposure, so if you live long enough you’ll be a deaf, unbalanced, dummyhead with tremors and restless leg syndrome. Know anyone like that?

You might think to yourself…  “Somethings gotta kill me, I’m not gonna worry about monomers of styrene”.  Try thinking of this.  It takes 500 years for the chemical components of polystyrene to dissolve and it’s foreverness accounts for 25% of landfill waste.

While polystyrene is recyclable, most recycling programs don’t.  Burning polystyrene releases all the stuff it is made of into the air;  including dioxin, and carbon monoxide. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer. Prevention or reduction of human exposure is best done via source-directed measures, i.e. strict control of industrial processes to reduce formation of dioxins as much as possible. That is from WHO, as in the World Health Organization.

There are some positive things we can do with the Styrofoam/polystyrene that already exists.  If you mix it with cement and make building blocks out of it, the result is strong enough to withstand earthquakes.  If the building burns we’re screwed so make sure there is a good sprinkler system installed.

A concern was espressed that if California does away with all polystyrene containers for food use — jobs will be lost.  Those plants that are currently making polystyrene containers for food consumption are in China.  Hong Kong has a study of the impacts of polystyrene.

The legislature (Of Hawaii) finds that it is in the interest of protecting the public health and safety to prohibit the use of polystyrene food containers by restaurants and take-out food operations.

The market is bursting with alternatives including polylactic acid (PLA), which is generated using corn instead of petroleum. Many of these substitutes can be commercially composted after use.

Another great product I read about is Angela Morris’ Woolcool…











A very smart lady named Margarita Calafell is using enzymes to make a super product to replace polystyrene.  Hope she can make it waterproof so we can use if for take out.

Hopefully polystyrene will go away as will asbestos.

I tend to say so

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Some people have been in the Ozarks so long I guess they don’t see its beauty and they leave junk and trash and it makes me mad and I tend to say so.  I don’t like the chicken factories and all the crap they spread on the fields that ends up in the rivers and lakes and I tend to say so.  I don’t like that so much of the population here doesn’t have healthcare and I tend to say so.   I don’t like the coal fired power plant industry actively trying to squash energy innovations and I tend to say so.

Loretta asked me why I complain so much about where we live.  An apology was wholeheartedly given and then a mental inventory was done of the times I’ve been derogatory–>pretty often. Loretta and I live here. This has always been her home. Loretta’s stories of life growing up in the Ozarks make me laugh; what a wonderful time she has had.

I grew up on military bases.  As a teen I worked in a restaurant where we wore nametags stating our name and where we were from.  Mine said,  I was from Don and Barbara. (my parents).  Growing up on military bases was fun.  Like small towns except no one is actually from there.

I asked one of the doctors Loretta and I work with why people around here whoot so much. They don’t whoot on airbases, although they salute often.  In return, he asked me if I’d ever been so happy that I just wanted to holler out my joy.  I decided to try whooting and now I find myself enjoying a good whoot now and then.

I actually love it here and Loretta is one of the reasons why.  We have conversations about dreams, pasts, kids, parents, our fold.  Loretta  doesn’t easily allow anyone in to her fold and I am privileged to be in it.  Her wit cracks me up and she lives her faith.  Many people around here talk faith talk, she exemplifies her faith and doesn’t have to talk it.

We are inquisitive and have had engaging conversations about our different pasts.  Her children and her family are her center. Family picnics and summers at the creek or the lake.  I love that.   She inspires me to see what is in front of me and never complains or says a bad thing about another person or place.  I’m embarrassed that I have dissed her home.

Being accepting is the best way to heal this sore world.  Accepting various religions and ethnicities.  Deserts, mountains, beaches,  cold vs hot climates.  It is a good thing we don’t all like the same things or we’d all be piled up in Lorettas town.

who wouldn't want to grow up here

but why would someone come to a beautiful place like this and leave trash.  It makes me mad and I tend to say so.

What page are they on?

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

It has been about a month since I originally posted Hospitals are not factories.  I wanted to add a post I read from The Weekly Updates.

…we have all of the NEGATIVE effects of “socialized” health care without actually having equal health care for all. Arguments against socialized health care, include the people not wanting the few to pay for the masses. But that is exactly what’s happening here.

I work 2 jobs, pay my taxes, barely make enough to keep a roof over my head and food on the plates of my family, do not get such luxuries. An ER visit typically runs me $2,000+, which I must pay or else what’s left of credit will disappear. I cannot afford health care, and with the economy today, my employers do not offer me any benefits as they won’t let me work full-time. This HAS to change.

This is an example of a hardworking American taxpayer who is having to go without, due to the current healthcare system.  Not to repeat myself, but, it isn’t a system.  It is a big pile of crap and when you stir up crap you realize how much it stinks.

Now — Let me share with you this exchange I had recently with a young man I know.  He is usually witty and makes funky videos so I sent him Barack Obama’s video challenge.  His response and that of his friend throws off the hope for change.  These boys are in college, so, don’t think they are uneducated knobs.

Also, Whenever you try to talk reasonably about healthcare reform it is easy to find the opposition–>they are the ones  pounding their fists on the table or resorting to foulness.

A panel of celebrity judges will review your videos and choose their favorites. Then the public will vote, and we’ll run the winning ad on national television. Millions of people will see the final videos and your message could help push reform over the top.

Yes please expand the government so I can lose even more freedom.
September 27 at 3:17am
hmm. while those celebrity judges are busy smelling their own asses and picking their favorite sob story maybe i should make an advertisement full of the real people who want universal health care… not the ones hand picked by the people selling this bullshit to us.

If you are attending a university or college then you are involved in government funded education. What freedom is healthcare reform going to take from you?
September 28 at 12:16pm
Great idea, let’s make a video of a bunch of people who are really lazy and don’t want to have to work hard for their healthcare.  My parents and I were taxed to support this school, if taxes would have been lowered I’m sure I could have afforded to go to a better university.
September 29 at 3:18pm
not everyone who gets sick is lazy.
September 29 at 3:58pm
Im simply saying that personally I’ve noticed that people in favor of universal health care are largely behind it for personal gain when they could be acting in the best interest of our country. I don’t think that all sick people are lazy. But i do believe that many illnesses (not all) are a result of the behavior one engages in. smoking causes lung cancer. Failure to wear a seat belt can cause an injury. Drinking to excess and walking down stairs may lead to broken bones. These are reasons why some people need insurance in the first place and I don’t think that our society as a whole should be forced to pay for the mistakes of a few. It doesn’t seem progressive to me. More like a ball and chain.
September 29 at 9:18pm
I know a good man, self employed, no insurance, who drinks plenty of water and lives a good life providing for his family he had a massive stroke. I know a boy, who worked hard. who lived a good life and got knocked off his motorcycle on a freeway on the way home from work –>brain injury. I know a waitress, single, works three jobs, got a kidney stone requiring surgery –>debilitated her finances. All of us can have anything happen at anytime. It is the brothers keeper thing — not personal gain
September 29 at 9:33pm
Everyone get’s sick, but I don’t care if they die or not, (What?!) have you ever tried anal sex? (What?! again) Because people who smoke, eat fast foods, have buttsecks, and live otherwise dangerous lifestyles are going to benefit from this plan more than me. All I know is that socialized medicine bankrupts every country or state that enacts it.  (our country is so financially stable with our current healthcare eh?)
September 29 at 11:14pm

Ok I’ll go away now
September 30 at 7:57am
It’s good to discuss these things when we’re all on the same page.
September 30 at 7:54pm
Just an example of the oppositions mind.  I wasn’t sure how to contest any further. By the way, How do you get in to college without knowing how to spell buttsex?  And, what page are they on?

the health business

Here is a good page to go to

Fun science

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Wouldn’t it be better if the TV personalities would talk serenely about facts rather than loudly bashing someone or some idea.   Wouldn’t it be better if we stopped listening to them;  just shut them off, because we were all two busy admiring people who are discovering and inventing stuff. Science claims that basically we are herd animals.  Maybe we need to classify ourselves as a home planet herd.  We’ll just push the loudmouths to the outside of the herd for the lions to eat.

the desire to classify is inherent in humans, as we crave a sense of order. Similarly,  humans are predisposed to impose group boundaries and to see outsiders as a threat. We seek every opportunity to identify with a home land, a home tribe, a home religion, a home team, and to declare everybody else the enemy.

Wheee – chromosomes!


Human DNA By ed_case

But some of you are doing fascinating things with your timecheck it out

Inventor Shawn Frayne has come up with a device that harnesses the power of wind without any rotating parts. Instead, his company’s Windbelts capture energy using fluttering fabric.   Air passes over a taut membrane, it induces a vibration, somewhat akin to a violin bow.   Magnets mounted on the membrane bounce back and forth between metal coils, inducing an electric current.

What makes this so way cool is that it can be put on fences in urban areas and it can be palm sized or room sized and the materials it is made from are all available right here in the good ole USA.



Scientists from Ohio State University report that marijuana, contrary to the conventional wisdom,  may help ward off Alzheimer’s and keep recall sharp. Are you kidding me? The only thing I was able to recall was where the ice cream was. Their findings, released today at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington D.C.:  chemical components  of marijuana reduce inflammation and stimulate the production of new brain cells, thereby enhancing memory. I don’t know, I’ll need more evidence before I believe this one.


two students (from MIT, of course) put together a low-budget rig to fly a camera high enough to photograph the curvature of the Earth. Instead of rockets, boosters and expensive control systems, they filled a weather balloon with helium and hung a styrofoam beer cooler underneath to carry a cheap Canon A470 compact camera. Instant hand warmers kept things from freezing up and made sure the batteries stayed warm enough to work.  Show this to your kids next time they whine about being bored.

Of course, all this would be pointless if the guys couldn’t find the rig when it landed, so they dropped a prepaid GPS-equipped cellphone inside the box for tracking. Total cost, including duct tape? $148.  they must have giggled after they pulled this off.

earth on $148


This is my favorite story.  Click the link to see the full story.  I’m not doing this fascinating kid justice with this short introduction.

The extraordinary true story of a Malawian teenager who transformed his village by building electric windmills out of junk is the subject of a new book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

Self-taught William Kamkwamba has been feted by climate change campaigners like Al Gore and business leaders the world over.

“People thought I was smoking marijuana,” he said. “So I told them I was only making something for juju [magic].’ Then they said: ‘Ah, I see.'”

william kamkwamba

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