January 25, 2006

Paper or Plastic?

Leaving the crafting question aside (paper wins), which is better: paper or plastic bags at the grocery store? The Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment, after much scientific study, voted plastic in 1990. However, in 1990 the Simpsons had just started on TV and Bush the First had only been president for one year. Perhaps more data is needed.

The plastic bag folk provide a site that breaks the choice down into three components - reduce, reuse, recycle -- and they suggest plastic is the better option. (Duh.)

However, even the paper people at treehugger.org vote plastic is the lesser of two evils, after much consideration. Wow.

So, I guess the answer is .... plastic, please.

Books To Inspire and Encourage

Well, any list of books to inspire and encourage your Simple Quest has to include Walden by Henry David Thoreau ... which is available to be read, in its entirety online for free. As is Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay Self-Reliance.

Not everyone seeking a Simple Life is a transcendentalist, however. Those interesting in simplifying life run the gamut -- for example, spiritually-speaking, Jews and Christians and Hindus and Buddhists all can be, and are, participants in the simplicity lifestyle.

Much can be said for The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham as well as Pathways to Bliss by Joseph Campbell, and The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. Heck, I get a lot from the Wizard of Oz, if you must know - as well as anything by PG Wodehouse. Laughter is good.

Personally, I found Joyce Meyer's Approval Addiction: Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone and Stephen Covey's Living the 7 Habits: the Courage to Change both to be very helpful.

Five O'Clock and Six a Day

Member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Mary Kay Ash deserves respect even if you absolutely hate the color pink. From the book Time Tactics of Very Successful People by Eugene Griessman, these time tips from Mary Kay herself:

1. be a part of the five o'clock club - start your day early; and
2. every evening, make a list of "the 6 things I must do tomorrow," then, the next day: do them.

Why heed Mary Kay's advice? Well, for one thing - she began the Pink Company in a Dallas storefront at the age of 45 with $5000 in her pocket and her son to help her. Maybe the lady who made Pink Cadillacs famous (Aretha notwithstanding) isn't the model of a Simple Life - but she certainly knew how to manage her time. We can learn from that. (Personally, I think she's great.)

VoIP - What About Those $25 Vonage Ads?

You've seen the advertising - an amazing cornucopia of telephone services for $25 and so easy to install, even the technology-challenged have no problem with it. Vonage can offer this service because it's using the internet, piggybacking on existing broadband cables and the like, to serve its customers. Think of the low overhead involved.

How can they do it? Through VoIP, "Voice over Internet Protocol," which is explained in great detail at HowStuffWorks.Com and at Wikipedia.

Should you switch? Yes, but maybe later ... VoIP service is only as good as that of your internet service provider. The reliability assumed with standardized phone service just isn't there for VoIP yet. Think power failures, viruses and worms, things like that.

And, importantly - there's the 911 issue. Right now, using VoIP means that the 911 system cannot automatically discern the source location of the VoIP call. If you call 911 and cannot tell them your address, they won't know. For this reason alone, perhaps it's best to wait on VoIP until the providers get these kinks out of the service.
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