June 29, 2012

Quotes On My Fridge

Hotei 布袋 - Japanese god of contentment and happiness. 
Carries a large cloth bag that never empties,
and uses it to feed the poor.

"Enlightenment, or true happiness, is not a transcendental state. It is a condition of broad wisdom, boundless energy, and good fortune wherein we each shape our own destiny, find fulfillment in daily activities, and come to understand our ultimate purpose in life." - Josei Toda

Josei Toda (1900 - 1958) was a Japanese educator and peace activist.

When he was 19 years old he met his mentor, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), who was also an educator. Makiguchi was working on a theory of teaching that was in contrast to methods used in Japan at the time.

His educational practice placed priority on the happiness of the children, and sought to inspire in them the desire to be curious, to study and to learn.

Conventional education's goal was to produce obedient subjects of the state.

In 1930 Toda and Makiguchi founded the educational organization Soka Kyoiku Gakkai in order to spread their message of peace, happiness, and personal autonomy.

In 1943 they were imprisoned by militarist authorities embroiled in WW II. The two educator activists were seen as threats to the state, and were accused of "thought crimes".

Makiguchi died in prison, while Toda was released shortly before the end of the war, to carry on supporting the goals envisioned by his mentor.

The education society Mr. Toda co-founded, continues to this day. It is now known as Soka Gakkai, and its work is international in scope.

The society's goal is still one of empowering ordinary people to become peaceful, self-reliant individuals. 

Eating Out Vs. Eating In

Results may vary depending on your location

Eating out vs eating in is a nightly consideration for many. It is a debate that Linda and I have not had to have for a long time. We rarely eat out.

June 27, 2012

Simply Hairy

In a recent survey, 33% of women said that shaving their legs is the first grooming activity to be cut from their routine when they are feeling overwhelmed. 

The simplicity movement is getting attention, and not all of it is good. Business interests are trying to cash in on the fact that a growing number of people are feeling tapped out mentally and financially by busy consumer-oriented lives.

You can tell when a social movement is gaining momentum when it gets co-opted by the corporate world. Enough people are now simplifying, or desiring to simplify, that advertisers are targeting the 'simplicity market'.

Now they want to try to sell stuff to 'help' people simplify, which doesn't seem to make much sense to me. It looks like simplification-washing is the new greenwashing.

A case in point is the 2012 Simplicity Survey sponsored by a large personal care product manufacturer that sells, among other things, women's hair removal products.

Here is a bit of what they found out after talking to 1000 women in the US:


   -- 71% of women say they have girlfriends that need to simplify their lives, but can't or won't
   -- 32% of women think that reducing social and family obligations would help simplify their life

   -- 40% of women say simplifying to them is removing things that cause stress in their life

   -- 25% of women say simplifying means focusing on what is really important

   -- 56% of women find themselves wishing for a simpler life more than 4 days a week 

   -- 42% of  women have beauty products they never use
The company said the survey revealed that "women need to simplify their lives", and then they offer their simplicity expertise.

They propose 'solutions', but what they fail to mention is that they are the ones that created the problem in the first place.

This problem, manufactured mostly in N. America in the 20th century using shame as a motivator, is the social obligation of maintaining a hairless body.

So what is their solution for the modern woman yearning for more time and less hassle and stress? A more convenient shaving product to simplify the process of becoming less hairy, and therefore less offensive to a culture they have trained to see body hair as dirty, unnatural, and 'objectionable'.

I have a different take on their survey and their solution, starting with questioning the assumption that we have to be hairless.

I think what the feedback says is that there is a large group of women willing to give up shaving altogether, or at least cut it back to a simple minimum amount.

Saying no to frequent, expensive, and time-consuming hair removal saves money, and frees up valuable time to do more enjoyable things. No one needs a better shaver, but they might benefit from being freed from arbitrary social obligations manufactured solely for profit.

After all, not all women, or men, in the world are as hair-phobic as in western countries. Maybe, like them, we can keep it simple by saying "no" to artificial problems and their unnecessary solutions, and embrace our natural hairiness.

How hairy are you willing to get in the name of simplifying life?

Don't worry, there is nothing to be ashamed of here. You are among nice, hairy, understanding people.

June 25, 2012

Voluntary Simplicity Movement Monday

Fight Corporatocracy - Live Simply
More and more people of all ages and income levels are wondering about the personal and environmental destruction caused by their way of life. "Is it all only about making more money and spending it?"

A lot are answer­ing, "No. This is insanity," and then are responding by joining the voluntary simplicity movement.

I admire those who are in the streets, camps, and protests on the front line of what may be our final battle to save not only our planet, but also our collective peace of mind. Although marching in the streets is an important part of resistance, it has to be accompanied by personal changes at home.

The problem with relying on confrontation for instigating change is that our government sponsored corporatocracy is prepared for physical resistance.

The oligarchy of corporate elites, through the manipulation of democracy, know that any physical presence, confrontation, or encampment against them can be swiftly, and 'lawfully' brought to a screeching halt.

How we think and live, though, can not currently be controlled by corporations or corrupt governments. We can still choose not to participate in their harmful practices, as difficult as this may seem at first. 

There are currently no laws against growing a garden, or bartering, trading, and sharing with neighbours. Nothing mandates that we must purchase things we don't need, or work at jobs that contribute to social and environmental injustice. We can choose abundance over scarcity, go off-grid, and generate our own solar power.

This is what they are really afraid will happen - that the simplicity movement will reach critical mass, as more and more people start thinking for themselves, and choosing to live more freely and independently with less.

No one will come to arrest you for choosing to live a sustainable, simple life, even though it is more radical and effective in disabling the corporatocracy than throwing a rock through the window of a bank.

June 22, 2012

Simple Pleasures: Walking Barefoot

"An old, ancestral affinity between the human foot and the solid ground
 is replenished by the simple act of stepping outside without shoes." - David Abram
Walking barefoot is free, requires no special gear, can be practiced anywhere, and has health benefits. So what is up with shoes?

You might think that expensive shoes do what manufacturers claim and protect your feet, but that does not seem to be the case. Phil Maffetone says in his book “In Fitness and in Health”:
For the most part, shoes are tested on machines, not people, because machines give the results the company wants and people don’t. A quick look in the medical journals will point out the abundant problems.
Did you know, for example, that the support systems in almost all shoes can weaken your ankles? And the soft, cushioned shoes of today can harm your feet?
Scientific articles over the past decade or more strongly suggest that such protective features put in by shoe companies, including shock absorption and motion control actually increase the likelihood of injury.

Yikes! Why don't we go barefoot more often, considering the injustices our feet put up with for a bit of protection?

Why? Because it's not profitable. Today, shoes are a gold mine.

The global footwear market is projected to hit $195 billion by 2015. The global barefoot market? Not so much.

It is no wonder barefoot walking isn't promoted. You are either a hippie, nature nut, running nerd, or downright uncivilized to traipse treadless across the ground. But again, what about protecting your feet from hazards?

Nope. The industry is 95% fashion, and 5% protection. Shoes can protect your feet from sharp stuff, but they also separate you from feeling the earth under you, and weaken your feet over time.

There’s nothing like walking on sand or grass in your bare feet, and the more you can enjoy nature, the better for your well-being. Going barefoot more often can also save you a lot of money. 
Walking Barefoot - Reconnecting With The Earth
Try this when the mood strikes you: step out upon the solid earth without the intermediary of a rubber or leather sole - without another creature's tanned hide coming between your flesh and that of the earth.

Notice the way your feet pressing against the coarse ground are also met by that ground, as your skin is probed by the soil and the pliant, bristling blades. How easy it is to sense that the terrain underfoot is the palpable surface of a living presence, and to allow that depth to feel your steps as you walk upon it!

Watch how your feet spontaneously relax their pace in order to respect this odd otherness - in order to reply appropriately to the caress and the steady support of that depth, to avoid insulting the living land with your carelessness. - David Abram
Walking barefoot is one of the simple pleasures that reconnects me with the earth, and disconnects me from consumerism.

It makes me more aware of how our every footprint can affect the earth. If only we were more concerned about avoiding insulting the living land with our carelessness in all walks of life.

June 20, 2012

Swiss Chard - Wonder Food

Swiss chard belongs in every garden
Swiss chard is a wonder food, and has been a staple of gardens around the world for centuries. It is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables around. How is it, then, that I have never eaten chard until harvesting some from my new garden allotment this spring?

I could see instantly at my garden that chard is a force of nature. Our plot was previously tended, so it was full of life when we got it, and there has been little to do except weed, water, and enjoy harvesting fresh food.

Most of the bed is in strawberries, which we will make into jam. But dominating a corner of our small raised bed is a steroidal Swiss chard that towers over everything else. It scared me at first.

A little research told me that chard is known by many, many other names. I wondered how it could actually be good with so many aliases - it was obviously trying to hide something.

Our towering plant of large leaves is known as White swiss chard, Spinach chard, or Silverbeet. But the name that convinced me of its value was 'sea kale', which is fitting as the community garden allotments are on land just a couple of kilometers from the ocean.

Sea kale, or swiss chard, is an annual plant that grows vigorously between June and November. Leaves can be continually harvested during the growing season.

Swiss Chard: Super Food
  • Swiss chard, like spinach, has many phytonutrients that have disease prevention properties.
  • Chard is an excellent source of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C. Its leaves provide about 33% of daily recommended levels per 100 g.
  • Chard is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 700% of daily recommended intake.
  • It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin-A, flavonoids anti-oxidants, and B-complex group of vitamins.
  • It is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
I have gone from never having tried chard to putting it in everything. It's that good.

This versatile, easy to grow food can be used in an infinite variety of dishes, but these are a few I have tried already:
  • steamed and served with butter and vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • replaced spinach in a veggie lasagna
  • in the filling for enchiladas
  • as a pizza topping
  • replaced bok choy in noodle soup
Chard is easy to grow from seed, and can be grown in containers. With care, a plant can provide dark, green leafy goodness for years.

Consider it a low maintenance, highly productive plant in the garden or container that can provide as much good stuff as expensive pill supplements.

Sea kale is nature's supplement factory, converting soil into things every healthy body needs!

Happy summer solstice, and happy gardening.

June 18, 2012

No Advertising To Kids Monday

Over $15 billion a year is spent in advertisements directed toward children in the United States. 

Many people are questioning advertising that targets children, arguing that advertising to children is wrong, and that psychologists helping market stuff to kids are acting unethically.

Berkeley, Calif., psychologist Allen D. Kanner, believes that the result of kids exposure to advertising "is not only an epidemic of materialistic values among children, but also a narcissistic wounding."

"Kids have," he says, "become convinced that they're inferior if they don't have an endless array of new products."

Creating Consumers: Advertising To Kids
  • The American Psychological Association reports that children under eight years old are not able to critically understand advertisements and that they regard them as truthful, accurate, and unbiased.
  • Advertisers consciously try to create a ‘nag factor” by bombarding kids with ads encouraging them to buy certain products in order to become popular. American children ages 12-17 will ask a parent for products they have seen on television an average of nine times until parents finally give in.
  • In a national survey, more than half of the children who responded reported that buying certain advertised products made them feel better about themselves.
  • Many kids are plugged in to some kind of media for more than seven hours a day, which means their exposure to advertising is at record levels
  • The average child in America watches over 40,000 television commercials in a year, or over 100 a day. 
  • see here for more interesting ad facts
Psychologist Tim Kasser pulls no punches when identifying what psychologists that collude with the advertising industry are doing:
"Psychologists who help advertisers are essentially helping them manipulate children to believe in the capitalistic message, when all the evidence shows that believing in that message is bad for people."

June 17, 2012

Thanks Dads

Me on left, dad, and my brother

This photo shows my dad, Robert G. Koep, holding me and my oldest brother Mark. The year was 1962 and my father had recently began his teaching career. He went on to teach thousands of students over 30 plus years.

Before he died in 2001 he was doing what he loved, and had been volunteer teaching overseas.

For me, he modeled not only love and generosity, but also an unwavering simplicity. After a brain tumor early in life, he knew that just waking up and swinging your legs out of bed was a special thing, and was not to be taken for granted.

As a result, he never needed to buy or own things to feel alive. A warm, dry place to sleep, clean clothes, enough food, and a good tooth brushing at the end of the day were enough to make him happy and content. He had a Phd, but was as low-brow as they come.

My dad's favourite shirt sported the quote often attributed to Gandhi: "Live simply so other may simply live," and that was how dad lived life. He didn't know it, but he was an early adopter of low impact, sustainable living.

Today I thank my Dad, and all Dads. We love you.

June 15, 2012

Not Buying Anything For Dad

My dad loved licorice allsorts, but would
have traded them to spend time with his kids.
Licorice Allsorts by Maureen Whittaker
I'm not buying anything for my dad for Father's Day this year. Of course, he passed away in 2001, but even had he survived his brain tumor, I still would not be shopping for a gift. That would only trivialize the importance of this 20th century invention.

Father's Day was first suggested in 1910 by Sonora Dodd, who along with her 5 siblings, was raised by a single father. Mother's Day had been recently started by Anna Jarvis in 1908, and Dodd thought that it was time for dads to get a bit of love.

The celebration didn't attract national attention until the 1930s when Dodd had the support of business interests that stood to gain from American's desire to make their  dads happy.

The New York Associated Menswear Retailers led the charge waving Donald Duck ties and packs of wool dress socks while establishing the Father's Day Council.

But the consumers-in-training of the day were already skeptical of commercial interests - they questioned the sincerity of the advertisers, and joked about the upstart counterpart to the already retail-friendly Mother's Day.

For decades dads day was delayed.

The US Congress voted down the idea of Father's Day several times. I guess they already had enough ties and coffee mugs. The day was not made official until 1972, six and a half decades after mom's got their day.

It turns out that the skeptics were right to be cautious, and by the 1980s the Father's Day Council was reporting that our dad's special day had become a 'Second Christmas' for the men's gift industry.

My dad never expected gifts for Father's Day. Still, he had his share of bottles of aftershave, cuff links, and licorice allsorts. But all he really wanted was to spend time with his kids.

For my dad's last Father's Day I took him to a local park on a windy day. I set him in a lawn chair, and put the string attached to a flying kite in his hands. His face beamed as he looked to the sky and felt the twitch and magic of flight through his fingers.

We talked and he told me that he hadn't flown a kite since he was a boy. To me he looked like a boy again, and we were boys together on that day, feeling the joy of a shared experience on a sunny day.

Your dad will understand if you are not buying anything for him this year, and he may even prefer that you don't. But do remember to spend some time with him, and let him know how much he means to you.

My dad would approve of that, and so would Sonora Dodd.

June 13, 2012

A Little Inconvenience Is Good

Inconvenience Store
Sometimes I jokingly call our home the 'house of inconvenience'. We are in no hurry, so don't have the need for time-saving conveniences. We think that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing slowly and mindfully.

Things are more difficult, but are also more meaningful. We are joyful, active participants in our increasingly self-reliant lifestyle. We enjoy the benefits of our thoughtful, inconvenient life.

Conveniences have been grossly oversold to the public. If life is so busy that I have to take the convenient route to compensate, perhaps what I need is a less busy life.

It's not natural to expect to be able to proceed through life with little effort or difficulty. Life is hard, and perhaps should be (within reason) for optimal human functioning. Humans, in our natural state, are curious and like a challenge - it keeps us interested and focused.

If you want the easy life, there will always be someone willing to sell you something that will, "make life better".

But there will also always be trade offs and unintended consequences. There is no shortage of examples of conveniences gone wild. 

-Keyless entry cars
"Touted as a convenience and car safety measure on over 150 new models, the key-less ignition has been linked to two carbon monoxide-related deaths in Florida and one in New York, where the feature led drivers to unknowingly leave their cars running overnight in attached garages as they were enveloped in the deadly gas." 
- Fast foods
"Fast food restaurants are extremely tactful and strategic in attracting customers. Their various forms of marketing practices draw consumers in, making them utilize a window for service, eat deep-fried foods, and receive large portions. The industry conducts a successful, yet health-harming business because they are preying on consumers’ needs for convenience."
-Synthetic clothes
"The micro fibres of easy wash, quick drying, low iron, synthetic clothes go down the drain and eventually end up in coastal marine habitats.

Marine biologists report that microplastic, comprised of fibres less than 1mm in length, is accumulating in marine habitats and shorelines throughout the world. They suggested that polyester and acrylic fibres from wastewater are a major source of this contamination. A single synthetic garmet, the study found, can yield more than 1,900 microfibers per wash."

Our conveniences have serious consequences.

Taking the perceived path of least effort degrades our quality of life. Every year conveniences are responsible for outright killing.

It would seem that a little inconvenience is good for you.

Why else would people go camping? Or bake their own bread? Or cook meals from scratch? Or ride their bike to work? Or paint an original rather than do a paint by number?

June 11, 2012

Manifesting Monday

Emergence by Hopi Artist Michael Kabotie

I live believing that I can create any reality that I choose. In a world where  powerful influences wish to control us, such self-directed thinking and action is not popular. And yet, it is possible to break free and create the life of which you dream.

It was not particularly well received when Linda and I announced our decision to quit our jobs, leave the city, and take up a life of voluntary simplicity close to nature.

The majority of people, even those close to us, met the news with a system-approved response. I share some of the more notable ones. Each has provided us with learning opportunities.

"What else will you do if you don't teach?" (I could think of millions of things that I could do. )

"What about retirement?" (What about it? Why worry about something in the distant future that may never happen?)

"My mom would think you are lazy." (1. The simple life is far from the easy, or lazy, life, and  2. I don't care what you, or your mom, think about how I conduct my affairs as long as no one is being hurt.)

"You can't live on that much money." (We ARE living on that much money.)

The biggest lesson we learned was, don't let fear, yours or someone else's, stop you from manifesting the life you want.

June 10, 2012

Quotes On My Fridge

One of the most beneficial aspects of living simply for Linda and me has been an increased ability to be present in the moment. We experience enjoyment in the basic activities of daily living. Feelings of confusion and frustration have dissipated.

Now is good, as is now, and now, and now.

The world has had more than enough 'doing'. What we need now is the time and space for 'undoing'.

May your days be serene and unencumbered by distractions and nonsense.

June 8, 2012

Ignorance Is Doom

A popular Beatles tune says that 'living is easy with your eyes closed'. They knew that not knowing something is often more comfortable than becoming aware of it. But any time we pick ignorance over knowledge, it feels like something is missing.

In the same song the Beatles say that ignorance leads to the 'misunderstanding of all you see'. Banishing ignorance may often be painful work, but it always leads to understanding, and better things.

Maybe not for Calvin, though.

Calvin and Hobbes on Ignorance
Calvin: It's true, Hobbes, ignorance IS bliss. Once you know things, you start seeing problems everywhere. And once you see problems, you feel like you ought to try to fix them. Fixing problems always seems to require personal change, and change means doing things that aren't fun! I say phooey to that!

But if you are willfully stupid, you don't know any better, so you can keep doing whatever you like.

The secret to happiness is short-term, stupid self-interest.

Hobbes: We're headed for that cliff!

Calvin: I don't want to know about it.

Both, falling off cliff and through the air: Waaugghhh! Splat!

Hobbes laying crumpled on ground: I'm not sure I can stand so much bliss.

Calvin laying close by: Careful, we don't want to learn anything from this...
We can't continue to do whatever we like, and remain ignorant of  the larger consequences of our actions. If we do, we are doomed and will go over the cliff.

Acquiring knowledge and fostering personal change can be deeply rewarding, and may be the only thing that can save us.

Besides, if ignorance is bliss, how come there aren't more happy people?

Let's banish ignorance in our own lives, and not tolerate it in the lives of others.

June 6, 2012

Non-Toxic, Low Cost Household Cleaner

Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide used together
are a non-toxic, inexpensive cleaner

When it comes to household cleaners, I like to keep things green, cheap, and simple. I do not want to use dangerous chemicals that are harmful to people and other living things.

Most popular household cleaners are toxic, and persist in the environment despite waste water treatment. Not only are they expensive and unnecessary, the harsh chemical components eventually make their way into our water.

What is required is a reliable, non-toxic cleaning method. Luckily, such a method exists.

Two basic cleaning agents, vinegar (acetic acid) and hydrogen peroxide, will do for most cleaning jobs and can replace toxic cleaners in the kitchen and bathroom.

Hydrogen peroxide (also know as non-chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach) is a wonder substance. Don't try this at home, but it can be used as rocket propellant. The neat freaks at NASA use it to sterilize satellites and space probes before launch, so you know it is effective at killing germs.

The best thing is that non-chlorine bleach biodegrades completely into oxygen and water.

This is what Natural Home magazine (Jan 2002) had to say about this low cost, non-toxic cleaning method:

“By itself, vinegar is not a disinfectant, but when used with hydrogen peroxide, it kills bacteria more effectively than any commercial cleaner.

Purchase a bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and a bottle of plain white or apple cider vinegar. Pour each liquid into its own spray bottle. Spritz the item to be disinfected with both the vinegar and the hydrogen peroxide, then rinse with water.

Using one mist right after the other is ten times more effective than each spray by itself and more effective than mixing the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide in one spray bottle.

Tests at VPI found the two sprays used together killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, or E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces; this spray combination is more effective than chlorine bleach.

It doesn’t matter if you spray with the vinegar first, then the hydrogen peroxide, or vice versa. There is no lingering taste of vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, and neither is toxic if any reside remains.

This combination works exceptionally well for sanitizing counters and other food preparation surfaces, including wood cutting boards.”

I may not have a space probe to sterilize, but my non-toxic cleaning toolbox still contains vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (as well as borax and baking soda).

Harsh, polluting chemicals not required.

June 4, 2012

Ginger Molasses Cookie Magic Monday

"Never mind gold, let's make cookies."

Every once in a while life events warrant a nice, soft, chewy cookie. But do we buy cookies? Certainly not - it is too easy, inexpensive, and fun to transmute them yourself in your very own laboratory.

I was feeling my cookie creativity stirring over the weekend, and decided to indulge in some baking magic. It made me think that the alchemists were on the wrong track.

They shouldn't have been trying to transmute base elements into gold - they should have been turning them into cookies. Cookies!

I love how all the separate ingredients in my alchemy lab (also known as "the kitchen") combine to make wonderful food gold unlike any of the component parts. It is sumptuous synergy.

Especially when making cookies.

I was all geared up for action when I discovered I didn't have any eggs. No problem, since discovering a suitable (vegan) egg substitute back when I first started to buy ground flax seed. It works great, and the fact that flax is a concentrated source of essential omega-3 fatty acids is an added bonus.

Substituting Flax For Eggs (per egg)

3 Tablespoons warm water
1 Tablespoon ground flax

Mix water and flax together till liquid thickens, use in place of eggs in recipe.

Now that I had all my ingredients, all I needed was for Linda to choose what kind of cookie she would like.

"Ginger/molasses cookies, please," was her quick reply. "Cookies make everything right in the world," she added. Who wouldn't want a bit of that magic?

I went to my lab and got down to business.

Ginger/Molasses Cookie Magic

Base Elements

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg or ground flax replacement (see above)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup molasses

Directions For Transmutation

  1. Preheat transformation chamber (oven) to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg/flax, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized nuggets. Place the nuggets 2 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.
  3. Transform in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow gold cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Try not to eat all the cookies at once, and have a magical Monday.

We can talk about transforming the rest of the world later...

June 1, 2012

Money Madness

I don't want to buy stuff because I don't want to participate in the whole money business. Money makes people do things in unskillful, unthoughtful ways.

Most of the time the colossal waste of money in the world is rather tragic. Funding for global militarism, for example.

Every once in a while the scurrying after the almighty buck is so insane that it becomes temporarily amusing before the full implications sink in.

A case in point is the Canadian copyright group that seeks to collect their fee every time you play one of your CDs for a group of people, like at a wedding.

If you take a CD you own and play it at a birthday, you owe a fee. What's next? How about, any time you grab your guitar, hit the street for some summertime jamming, and gather a crowd, you owe a fee.

You owe the person that wrote the song, the artist that performed it, and the recording industry. If people dance, the fee is doubled.

I thought about the ridiculousness of this desperate money grab as Linda and I performed a few songs in our living room, and listened to music on the radio.

What if several of my neighbours could hear the music? Do we owe a copyright fee? If we perform a song really well and our neighbours end up dancing in their living rooms, do we owe double the fee?

How much for toe tapping, or head bobbing?

Money makes people do insane things.