April 28, 2018

Your Food Becomes You

Low life force foods.                    High life force foods.

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” 

- Anthelme Brillat Savarin

Your food becomes you. And you become what you eat.

Since what you eat, you become, one should eat foods that are fresh and full of life force. In Ayurveda, this life force energy is referred to as prana. Traditional Chinese Medicine knows it as chi or qi.

A diet rich in high energy foods promotes both mental and physical well being. So how do various foods and food preparations differ when it comes to prana or chi

Examples of high life force foods are:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables 
  • whole grains 
  • olive oil 
  • ocean fish 
  • shellfish

Examples of medium life force foods are:

  • eggs
  • wine 
  • boiled vegetables 
  • cane sugar 
  • cooked fish

Examples of weak life force foods are:

  • cooked meats 
  • sausages 
  • coffee 
  • tea
  • chocolate
  • jams
  • processed cheeses 
  • white bread
  • old food

Examples of foods with little to no life force:

  • margarine 
  • conserves 
  • alcohol 
  • meat 
  • pasteurized milk
  • overcooked vegetables
  • highly processed products (bleached flour, refined sugar, items canned or frozen)
  • anything cooked in a microwave

When we eat with regard to the highest life force foods, most of out ailments and diseases go away. The way we eat goes a long way towards being at our best, and living harmoniously in the world.

As often as you can, choose high prana foods. That means eating fresh, local and organic. Imagine the strength of the life force in something freshly picked from your garden, or an apple plucked off the tree. 

Incorporate raw, whole food with each meal. 

Take the time to enjoy preparing meals so you can infuse everything you make with your own vital energies. Food made mindfully, with love and gratitude, tastes better, and is better for you and whoever is sharing it with you.

It is important that when you eat, just eat. No books, newspapers, devices, screens, or other distractions. Just you, vital wholesome food, and good company (whether you are alone or with someone). 

Ask yourself, "What will I become when I eat this food?" 

Your tongue and digestive system will give you the answers. Trust them.

April 26, 2018

Slow, Slower, Stop

“I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought or thoughtfulness.” 

― Rebecca Solnit

I have three speed settings: slow, slower, and stop. I don't like to be rushed or pressured while doing things. In a speedy world, this leisurely pace is not popular. My faster friends gave me the nickname, "Sloth Man". 

I approved - I like sloths. They are slow, methodical, and patient. Sloths are also solitary animals, and spend most of their time in the trees. They sleep 10 hours a day, are vegetarian, and appear to always be smiling.

I must admit that the resemblance is uncanny. But considering the facts, who wouldn't take the moniker to be a complement? I did.

So it is, when out on my bike, that I find myself passing through the landscape far, far too fast. On every ride I take the time to stop, set my bike down, and leisurely stroll and explore on foot. 

While on foot a person can choose to walk, stroll, saunter or wander. You can actually notice things, and start to blend in with your surroundings, instead of passing through like a streaking blur while missing all the good stuff.

“Downshifting is a fast growing movement of people who choose voluntary simplicity in all aspects of their life. 
Downshifters go beyond  materialism – beyond the fast life. They downshift to a slow connected life.”

If you ride a bike very slowly you will fall over; a certain amount of speed is required, and even that pace is often - you guessed it - too fast for me.

Needless to say, driving these days feels like blasting through time and space at Warp 9 on the Starship Enterprise. Blasting down to the grocery store and back in our van every couple of weeks is enough driving for me.

So it is that I live my life slowly, and slowlier. And the slowliest speed of all, of course, is stop, another of my favourite paces. When one stops, one can see a lot, think a lot, experience a lot.

Imagine if the whole world would just move more slowly, or even stop every once is a while. See more, fewer accidents, less fuel burned, fewer frayed nerves. 

If fast food is bad (it is), then slow food is the answer. 

Maybe the slow way is also the answer to many of our modern challenges. The worst case scenario would be that things on our planet would continue to deteriorate at a more petty pace. 

Best case scenario is that we would find that slow is better. Life is short, and should be savoured slowly, not slaked speedily. 

It's the Sloth Life for me. I highly recommend it.

April 22, 2018

Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution

Today the Earth Day Network takes on a formidable foe - plastic. This year's campaign is to end plastic pollution, a tall order considering plastic has invaded the entire planet. 

Plastic is found in bottled water. It is in our food, meaning it is also in each of us. The effects are unknown, but they are unlikely to be good. I can envision the plastic-industrial complex inventing fake news to convince us that "ingesting plastic is good for you!". Watch for that as awareness of plastic pollution builds.

"A 2017 study... concluded that of the 9.1 billion tons of plastic produced since 1950, close to 7 billion tons are no longer in use. 
The authors estimate that only 9 percent got recycled over the years, while another 12 percent was incinerated, leaving 5.5 billion tons of plastic waste littering the oceans and land." - The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

If you are concerned about plastic patches floating in the oceans, many the size of small continents, or about plastic bag trees, or plastic in food, then there are things that can be done. 

The plastic backlash is finally happening, with Taiwan, Scotland and Britain (along with cities in other parts of the world) getting things going by banning single use plastic straws. But you can't ban all plastic. Or can you?

Each of us can choose to ban plastic in our own lives, although it is a challenge to avoid completely when it is so prevalent in our everyday lives. 

The most effective "R" to be used here is Refuse. The biggest change I have seen in the produce section of food stores is the amount of plastic packaging. There are many things that I will not buy because they are packaged unnecessarily in plastic containers.

I don't use single use plastic bags, and bring my own mesh bags when I go food shopping to put fruit and veggies in for the trip home.

We can also let businesses know that we prefer not to buy products that come in excessive plastic, or are made from plastic when less harmful alternatives are available. We have switched to glass containers for food storage, and when we make things like yogurt, we eliminated the need for a plastic container.

When plastic does make its way into our homes, we can make sure that it is refilled, reused, repurposed, or recycled responsibly. Ending plastic pollution will be a challenge, but each of us can do our part and make a difference. 

I hope this happens before we become Planet Plastic, inhabited by plastic people that live a short time, then don't biodegrade for hundreds of years after death. 

How do you ban plastic from your home? 

Happy Earth Day. 

It is still a great little planet, and one worth saving, from plastic and other harms.

April 21, 2018

Canada's 1951 Oil Attitude

Japanese solar farm built on an abandoned golf course elevates it to a higher purpose.

You would think it was 1951 the way some Canadians are talking about building a new pipeline they say is "needed" to ship tar sand goop to China for the next 60 years.

Meanwhile, in Japan they are converting unwanted golf courses into solar farms. 

And in New Zealand they have just made all new off-shore oil and gas exploration off limits. It is the biggest oil exclusion zone in the world.

Pipeline proponents haven't noticed that China is becoming the biggest thing in renewable energy in the world. Will they really want our dirty oil shipments until 2078? 

I doubt it.

It is time for the big oil deep state to lay down their economic threats, environmental degradation, drilling rigs, leaky pipelines and orphaned wells, and see what the rest of us see - the end of our dependence on their dirty products. 

It's happening, and no amount of fake oil industry memes will change that.

Even big banks are getting in on oil divestment. HSBC announced that they will no longer be financing Alberta tar sands developments, or other oil and gas projects.

Oil slick leaders tell us that pipelines are in the "national interest", but are they really? We already subsidize fossil fuel producers to the tune of $3.3 billion dollars a year. Now we are going to fork out billions more in taxpayer money to build a pipeline owned by a private corporation?

I can imagine what 3.3 billion a year in subsidies would do for the green energy sector, but big oil wouldn't like it.

Even if pipelines were in Canada's best interest, is it in our global interest to be promoting dirty energy projects when renewables are finally getting off the ground in a big way? 

Pipelines don't make environmental, economic, or social sense any more. It is time to drop the 1950s oil attitude and get with the renewable energy program.

April 18, 2018

Repair Cafe: Can We Fix It?

The worst case of planned obsolescence I have heard of concerns computer printers that have a "pre-programmed failure date" that shuts the device down after so many copies, or when a competitors ink cartridge is used.

Worst case, that is, until hearing that a popular cell phone company intentionally slowed their old phones down so that people would think they needed a new handset. Many people replaced their phones not knowing that all they needed was a new battery.

There is a rising swell of people that are sick and tired of the intentional throw-away economy. They want quality things that can be repaired, and that will last a long time.

A proactive response to all the cheap, made-to-fail crap is The Repair Café. Its objectives are to reduce waste, maintain repair skills, and strengthen social cohesion.

It was initiated by Martine Postma when she organized the first Repair Café in Amsterdam, on October 18, 2009. Fast forward to today, and there are over 1500 repair cafes around the world.

The following is from the Repair Cafe International website:

Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need, on clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera. 
You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields. 
Visitors bring their broken items from home. Together with the specialists they start making their repairs in the Repair Café. It’s an ongoing learning process. 
If you have nothing to repair, you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Or you can lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. 
You can also get inspired at the reading table – by leafing through books on repairs and DIY.

Any time something breaks, the first question should be, "Can we fix it?" Too often companies do not sell replacement parts, or give owners access to repair manuals, making repairs difficult.

The Right To Repair Movement is actively taking on this form of forced obsolescence, and demanding that rules change so that owners can fix the things they have paid for without corporate malfeasance.

Repair Cafes encourage people to "Fix It" before carelessly throwing out and buying new replacements. Not repairing when we can means perpetuating the cycle of disposability while supporting unscrupulous manufacturers.

Is there a Repair Cafe near you. Check the map here.

Or perhaps you would like to initiate a Repair Cafe in your own community. See here.

Welcome to the Repair Revolution. Fix it, don't nix it.

April 16, 2018

Water Adapts To All Changes

Warning: Rough Road Changes Ahead.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

- Lao Tzu

Sometimes the pavement road of life turns to gravel. Or dirt. 

There is no use cursing and complaining that the rough road is not smooth, especially if it is the only route that takes the traveller to their destination. 

When the going gets rough, one must pick one's way through the potholes and mud slowly and carefully, like water flowing to the sea.

"Be like water." - Bruce Lee

Those on the road less traveled move forward fully aware and accepting of  come what may, therefore experience much that might have otherwise been lost in the autopilot blur of speed.

You can't fight the rough road without making matters worse. Yield to the change, accept it fully. Be one with the road. 

Warning: Rough Road Changes Ahead. Will we navigate them rigid and brittle, or will we flow like water? 

When we accept the situation we are in, and are committed to being adaptable, we can do what we must to survive. 

With clear goals in mind (with the ultimate goal being reaching the sea of self-awareness), we are free to flow towards satisfying outcomes unhindered by inefficient behaviours, like worry, fret and denial.

"In the world, there is nothing more submissive and weaker than water. Yet, for attacking that which is hard and strong, nothing can surpass it."

- Lao Tzu

April 13, 2018

Frugal Flipper: Fail Or Fab?

My frugal challenge: How could I re-purpose this broken kitchen flipper?

Sometimes in my desire to be economical, I go too far and experience what I call a frugal fail. It's all good, as long as no one gets hurt, and waste is eliminated.

However, in one case, I did get hurt. It happened when my kitchen flipper broke and the handle came off. 

I decided to keep using it. 

In dangerously hot pans. 

It reflects my dedication to the cause. Or brain damage.

After a few skin contacts with hot frying pans, I decided that there was a good reason flippers had long handles. In this case, acquiring a flipper with a handle was warranted.

When it comes to pushing the limits of frugality, if you don't know how far is too far, then how do you know how far you can take it? Because I want to take it as far as I possibly can. Preferably without hurting myself in the process. 

As it turns out, because I still wasn't ready to dispose of my handle-less flipper, I did find a use for my broken kitchen implement. 

This fraction of a flipper is quite perfect re-purposed as a dough cutter, and I use it every time I bake bread.

I guess I turned my frugal fail into frugal fabulous. And it only hurt a little bit.

April 11, 2018

Piles Of Stuff

Photo from "Material World" by Peter Menzel.

I think one reason that garage sales are so popular is not just because you can get good things you need for a fraction of the price of new, or that it is a more efficient use of materials. Such sales feed deeper needs.

Perhaps even more important, is our ability to get a glimpse of someone else's pile of stuff, or at least a good portion it. We like to see what other people own, and how that compares to our own possessions. 

Photo from "Material World" by Peter Menzel.
It may also make us feel less guilty about all the "cool stuff" we own, compared to the "obvious crap" that other people own. Garage/yard sales are an interesting, and possibly useful, activity when seen this way. 

How else, but by comparison, can we ascertain whether our pile of stuff is too much, or too little? We can begin to wonder what a pile of "just right" proportions might look like.

Photo from "Material World" by Peter Menzel.

To look into another's hearth is something we seem to be innately drawn to. 

American photographer Peter Menzel's 1994 book called,"Material World: A Global Family Portrait", does just that. It takes a peek at participants posing with all their possessions in front of their homes, representing 30 nations in all. 

Photo from "All I Own" by Sannah Kvist.

Menzel's book is a mind expander that helps one develop gratitude, as well as a certain scale towards balancing out how much stuff is necessary for a full and happy life. 

Unsurprisingly, given the mesmerizing subject material, I found other similar possession pile picture projects.

Photo from "All I Own" by Sannah Kvist.

There is a smaller photo project called, "All I Own" by Swedish photographer Sannah Kvist. In it, she takes pictures of her 20-something friends posing with their piles of things. 

As one might expect, they tend to have small piles that may reflect their desire for a lighter, more mobile and carefree lifestyle. 

Photo from "Family Stuff" by Huang Qingjun.

Another interesting look at possession piles is the "Family Stuff" project by Chinese photographer Huang Qingjun. In China, he photographed mostly rural people and their things, but also included some shots of middle class subjects.

Photo from "Family Stuff" by Huang Qingjun.
While getting North American families to put all their possessions in one place for a photograph might be too much work, it might make an interesting project to take pics of garage sale stuff, which is already laid out in an enticing manner for full display.

Photo from "Family Stuff" by Huang Qingjun.

What if you gathered together and piled up everything you own in one spot? How would it compare to the piles of other people in your community, and around the world?

How big (or small) would that pile be? Would you need to photograph it from space, or would from the top of a ladder be enough? Would it look like too much, too little, or just enough?

April 8, 2018

Peak Fakery

I have never felt comfortable with a mainstream culture that had me feeling like my differences, and questions about what's real, meant there was something wrong with me

I am beginning to understand my early discomfort. I see how my perceptions of reality have been faked by groups that profit off our faked existence. Our entire system is based on fakery, and has been for far longer than I have been alive. 

And now, we enter a time of Peak Fakery. It is much bigger than just fake news. Fakery has pervaded every corner of life, and includes things like fake Mt. Everest climbs, fake science, and fake history.

Fake leaders leading fake parties in a fake political system. A fake economy based on perpetually buying things we don't need, and trashing the planet in the process. 

Fake education. Fake food (phude). Fake freedom. Fake body parts. Fake narratives. Fake everything.

But how do we overcome the juggernaut of fake democracy, fake economics, and the fake lifestyles it all creates in order to keep us passive, placated, and powerless? 

With the smell of a baby, the undying love of a dog, sun rises and early spring storms. Or from the satisfaction of one planet living, and being kind to each other, and all life. Or from rocks... and rock and roll. For a start.

More than ever before (because our survival depends on it), righteous anger and indignation are warranted. I will continue to not comply. I will continue to withhold my consent. I will never kowtow to the fakers. 

I want real, and I want it yesterday.

Oh, did I mention that the "top" 1% are currently hoarding 66% of global wealth? That should give us some idea of who benefits most from The Fabulous Fakery Factory.

See you in the streets. And the garden. It is time to get real.

April 4, 2018

Got The Winter Blues?

I took this picture outside our west coast home on Vancouver Island. Spring weather comes early there.

Got the blues? Is persistent winter-like weather getting you down? Or maybe the Robins just haven't returned to your neighbourhood yet.

For fast acting relief, administer these soul soothing sounds directly into your ears:

Robin Song (click me)

Repeat as necessary.

Side effects include:

  • elation
  • a strong desire to be outside on a warm evening
  • an increase in your resolve to make it through one more winter

100% all natural, organic ingredients.

April 1, 2018

All The Signs

The back roads around my home are the perfect place for a quiet sunset ride.

Let's see. Worms crawling on wet concrete after a gentle rain? Check.

Robins calling from tree tops? Oh, ya.

Getting the bike out to go for an evening ride? Yes. That, too.

Spring is here, and that's no joke.