January 27, 2007

Electronic Time Capsule - Cute, But I Vote No

Here's something to ponder: the Electronic Time Capsule. According to the website:

"Electronic Time Capsule is a unique way of sharing your life with those you love. Easy and convenient, too, it ensures that your feelings, life story and family history are documented and told — at a time you designate — to your loved ones. Efficient, personal and flexible, Electronic Time Capsule allows you to:
Create a capsule anywhere, anytime at a moment's inspiration.
Discuss mature topics and deliver them when your child will understand.
Capture your child's life story… told by all the important people in their lives.
Be certain your child receives the time capsules… no flood or fire or hard drive failure can destroy your memories (pictures, video, letters).
Leave a legacy… Even if you pass away unexpectedly, Electronic Time Capsule will deliver your thoughts and feelings forever."

The site has a complete tour, and it's not free. It costs $15.00/year. Several writers can contribute, and photos can be added.

Personally, I like the idea of a time capsule. And, I like the idea of leaving messages for "when [my] child will understand."

However, I think I like them better in my own handwriting, not stored in cyberspace. Maybe I like journals and scrapbooks and photo albums too much.

To me, this offer is something that only seems simple. It's deceptive.

Simple is writing letters to your grandchild with a cup of hot tea, and storing them in a nice box for her sixteenth birthday, or her graduation, or her wedding. Including photos, and ribbons, maybe a piece of jewelry or something.

Now, that's a nice time capsule to give. And to get.

January 22, 2007

TV Shows With a Simplicity Focus

Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska is a PBS show that many have seen or heard about: it's into its third season (though we don't get it here in San Antonio). Interestingly, there seems to be more and more television shows popping up with at least some content that appeals to those simplifying their lives.

Here are some, please feel free to add to the list:

Living With Ed, HGTV. Ed Begley, Jr. (loved him since St. Elsewhere - does this man age?) and his wife have a new, weekly reality show dealing with their environmentally-friendly home. Funny and educational. Here's Ed telling you about refrigerators: he calls them "energy hogs."

Living Fresh with Sara Snow, Discovery Health. This show (jumping to Discovery from FitTV) deals with eating fresh, locally grown, organic foods. An example of its focus: Sara's list of ten things you can do to "go green."

Healthy Appetite With Ellie Krieger, Food Network is a somewhat similar show to Sara Snow's Living Fresh. However, Krieger doesn't seem to leave the kitchen (Sara goes on field trips) and Krieger focuses on the cooking itself. She's got a growing recipe collection at the site - however, I'd double everything. From the show, I don't see this woman believing in leftovers.

Real Simple, PBS is another offering that I haven't seen. According to its site, "Want to know how to throw together a delicious last-minute dinner from whatever you have in the refrigerator? How to upgrade supermarket flowers into beautiful centerpieces? How to streamline your schedule? The answers are simple on Real Simple Television — a series unlike anything else on the air." Check the website to see if your local PBS station carries the show.

Simplify Your Life, Fine Living Network, offers more of a reality-tv perspective. Each week's show is named after the family guest-starring in that episode. As an example, "the Witkins," offers "When baby makes three, make way for more stuff. With some creativity and a few tools, the spare bedroom that's being used to store clothes can transform to a nursery. And expectant parents might be low on energy, but that's the very time you need a fitness routine for pregnancy and beyond--Geralyn Coopersmith has the perfect suggestion. Nutritious can be delicious, even for pregnant women, with these menus and some quick kitchen tips from Grace Parisi. And the same techniques will work just as well after the baby's born."

LowCarbCookworx, PBS-HDTV. Hosted by a husband-and-wife doctor team, healthy recipes are the focus. You'll hear discussions of things like the importance of magnesium here, and see them adding it to food, as well as making things like mock maple syrup (to avoid high fructose corn syrup) to go with high-protein waffles. Ed Begley would like this show.

January 18, 2007

Personal Post 1 - Life Without the Microwave

In April 2005, I tossed the microwave and I thought I'd report on that event, and its aftermath, as my first official "personal post" here at Everyday Simplicity.

Long story short: haven't missed it. Not even once.

Why did I do it?

In Spring 2005, I read The Maker's Diet and that led me to surfing the web, learning about the safety (or lack thereof) of microwaved food. Skeerey stuff, more details on that down below.

How'd I do it?

Well, first, I prepared myself for what I perceived to be a tremendous sacrifice. (I gave myself permission to sigh a lot, and I ate more chocolate.) Then, I kept a list of how I used the machine - kept it up for a couple of weeks.

What a revelation: I only used it to heat water for tea, and once to defrost some chicken. I was surprised. So, on the last day of the month, surprisingly without angst, I unplugged it and toted the thing out to the alley, for garbage pickup. Away it went.

Today, I can report that I'm glad it's gone. Not only for the health benefits (again, all those details are still to come), but it increased my quality of life. Seriously.

Now, I boil hot water in a wonderful blue tea kettle, and listen for the whistle. Then, I use one of a collection of tea pots to brew tea for the daily pitcher of iced tea or I have a pretty tea mug at the ready, for a single cup.

Sure, I'm not standing at the counter waiting for a ping, but I've got the time to take care of a little thing while I'm waiting for the whistle. I get the paper, I unload the top rack of the dishwasher, I water some plants. We're not talking a big time differential here - the mug has water for tea within three minutes with a kettle.

Defrosting means thinking ahead or revising the dinner menu if I forget. That's okay. I've found that over time, I'm not forgetting anymore - it's like I've settled into something here. I'm cooking at home for almost all my meals now, something I wasn't doing in April 2005. But I suppose that's the topic of another post.

Back to the 'wave. I do admit to getting a toaster oven, so I could heat or cook or toast without firing up the big Westinghouse oven. In 5-10 minutes, I have hot food that has real brown marks on it and no rubber corners.

I think that this one change has influenced other positive changes in my life, albeit in a small way. My mornings feel cozy when that kettle sounds, and the three minutes instead of 50 seconds for the mug in its own way forces me to keep a slower, steadier pace. There's a ritual here that I see in old movies, read about in books set in the English countryside. Suddenly, I'm a part of all that.

It's a simpler way of living, and I like it.

Now, about the health issues of microwaved food.

1. "People who ingested microwaved foods showed a statistically higher incidence of stomach and intestinal cancers, plus a general degeneration of peripheral cellular tissues and a gradual breakdown of the function of the digestive and excretory systems. Due to chemical alterations within food substances, malfunctions occurred within the lymphatic system, causing a degeneration in the immune system's ability to protect the body against neoplastic (cancerous) growth. Microwave exposure caused significant decreases in the nutritional value of all foods studied, most significantly in the bio-availability of Bcomplex vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, essential minerals and lipotropics (substances that prevent abnormal accumulation of fat). Heating prepared meats in a microwave sufficiently for human consumption creates the cancer-causing agent d-nitrosodiethanolamine. Cancer-causing free radicals were formed within certain trace-mineral, molecular formations in plant substances -- particularly in raw root vegetables. Ingestion of microwaved foods caused a higher percentage of cancerous cells within the blood serum. Microwaving foods alters their elemental food substances, leading to disorders in the digestive system. The use of microwave ovens was banned in Russia in 1976." -- Cambridge University

2. "From the conclusions of the Swiss, Russian and German scientific clinical studies, we can no longer ignore the microwave oven sitting in our kitchens. Based on this research, we will conclude this article with the following:

1). Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term - permanent - brain damage by "shorting out" electrical impulses in the brain [de-polarizing or de-magnetizing the brain tissue].
2). The human body cannot metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.
3). Male and female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating microwaved foods.
4). The effects of microwaved food by-products are residual [long term, permanent] within the human body.
5). Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients of all microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.
6). The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in microwave ovens.
7). Microwaved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths [tumors]. This may explain the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in America.
8). The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood.
9). Continual ingestion of microwaved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations.
10). Eating microwaved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence."

- Dr. Joseph Mercola

BBCNEWS.com ("Cancer Risks in Microwaved Food")
CambridgeUniversityNet ("Health Risks and Dangers of Using Microwaves in Food Preparation")
Mercola.com("Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cooking")

Illustration: The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, by John Tenniel, appearing in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865).

January 15, 2007

How To Stop Junk Mail 4 Free

Several websites offer to help stop your junk mail: you can spend around ten bucks for a do-it-yourself package, or you can pay a monthly fee for provided services. However, if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can stop your junk mail yourself, for free. There's a great list of instructions at the site for Obvious Implementations Corporation, obviously.com.

Why worry about junk mail? Not only is it a daily hassle, it drains both the economy and the environment:

1. 100 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water are used to produce junk mail each year;
2. 250,000 homes could be heated with one day's supply of junk mail;
3. Americans receive almost 4 million tons of junk mail every year;
4. Approximately $320 million of local taxes are used to dispose of junk mail annually; and
5. Transportation of junk mail costs about $550 million per year.

Interesting read: "A Declaration of Independence from Junk Mail," by Donella H. Meadows, adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College.

Sources: University of Oregon; nativeforestnetwork.org; charityguide.org; ecologicalmailcoalition.org.

January 13, 2007

Free Pedometer - Thru 01/31/07

Over at MyHeartNow.Com, you are rewarded with a free pedometer if you take the time to answer a short survey at their site.

Compare this to the ones at Walmart for $15.00 or more. The offer is good through the end of this month - the pedometers are provided by Pfizer.

And, about that walking you're going to be doing: while the pedometer will guessestimate your steps/mile, you should know that one mile is the same as 5280 feet. While everyone's stride is unique, unless you're Tim Duncan or Bindi Erwin your stride is going to cover about 2.5 feet, or 2112 steps. (My pedometer is right around this: one mile is shown at 2102 steps.)

For lots more info on walking, check out thewalkingsite.com, aarp.org, and walkinginfo.org.

Finally, this post would not be complete without including a jump to Thoreau's essay -- Walking, which is such a treasure. Many things to ponder there while you're taking step after step:

"But the walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours — as the swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man’s swinging dumb-bells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far off pastures unsought by him. Moreover, you must walk like a camel which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking. When a traveller asked Wordsworth’s servant to show him her master’s study, she answered 'Here is his library, but his study is out of doors.'"

January 9, 2007

Happy Birthday to Everyday Simplicity!

Today marks one year of blogging here at Everyday Simplicity! While a back injury did curtail daily posting over the summer and a workload conflict did impact the Fall, hopefully things are back on track for the new year.

There is a website now, to organize all the entries, over at everydaysimplicity.net. This was a must, since the index in the left-hand margin of the blog got overloaded by March.

During the first year, I made a conscious decision to refrain from personal commentary on this blog, or at least keep things to a minimum. In this new year, that may change. After all, sharing what we're all learning is part of the simple life, right?

Thanks for all the comments and the emails - it's great to learn from you as well as find out there are others out there who share the interest, or perhaps the passion, of living this simpler way.

The Compact - Will U Join?

The Compact started out last year as a Yahoo Group comprised of a group of folk out in San Francisco who decided not to buy anything new for one year. These ten people, coming from a variety of fields (e.g., teacher, engineer, dog handler), named their project "the Compact." They began the Yahoo chatroom with their mission statement: to live off the consumer grid for one year.

They've done it. And they're doing it again for 2007. And, in doing so, they've made Time magazine (read the article online here) as well as built the Yahoo Group into several thousand members - and inspired new Compact groups to form around the country.

The Compact has several aims, according to the Yahoo Group homepage:

1. To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
2. To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
3. To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

"We've agreed to follow two principles (see exceptions etc. on our blog).
#1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used."

The chatroom has very heavy traffic, and lots of good info. Some folk are more stringent than others: today, a woman admitted she won't give up her high-speed internet, for example.

It's definitely a good idea to check the "daily digest" option should you join the group: your inbox can get over 40 Compact emails an hour otherwise. Joining is free, of course.

For more information, check out the Group itself as well as the Compact's blog overseen by one of the group's founders -- Rachel, the dog handler.

January 1, 2007

Food as Medicine: Healing Arthritis

Here, in its entirety, an article by Dr. Ruth Yale Long of the Nutrition Education Association, as shown on ghc.health.com, quoted in its entirety there by Dr. Ellen Tart-Jensen:

Healing Arthritis
Dr. Ellen Tart-Jensen

There has been a request from one of our students this
month for me to write about arthritis. Dr. Ruth Yale Long from
the Nutrition Education Association wrote, “Arthritis is a
nutritional deficiency disease. If we all eat the nutrients we
need, we can live out our lives without the misery of
arthritis.” Indeed, Dr. Bernard Jensen, my late father-in-law,
traveled into Russia and met people over 100 years old
completely free from arthritis. He said that some of these
people rode up to greet him on horseback, very limber and
agile. Why did these people not have arthritis? They lived
close to nature, growing their own gardens, picking their own
vegetables and eating them. They went barefooted on the earth
and worked outside in fresh air and sunshine. They were happy
and contented.

How can we prevent arthritis? And if we have arthritis,
how can we heal it? First of all, let’s examine some of the
causes of arthritis. When people eat denatured foods that have
been canned, preserved, packaged and nuked, there are no
vitamins and minerals left in them. The joints need minerals in
order to stay lubricated. The joints are lined with lymph
fluid. That lymph fluid is the same fluid that makes up our
tears when we cry. Have you ever tasted your tears? They are
very salty. Organic sodium is necessary to keep the lymph
healthy. Organic sodium helps to hold calcium in the bone.
When calcium comes out of the bone, crystals form in the joints
causing pain, inflammation and swelling. Soon the joints become
enlarged and hardened.

Some people reading this will think they need to eat
lots of salt. This is far from the truth. Salt dries up the
lymph fluid. Table salt is much different from natural, organic
sodium. Table salt is made from salt rocks and is mined from
the earth. This salt is nearly impossible for the body to
absorb. So, you may ask about sea salt. Most sea salt does
come from the sea, but it has been heated to high temperatures
and all the minerals are destroyed. In order to get natural,
organic sodium, we must get it from plants or goat whey. Plants
stretch their roots far into the earth and absorb the salt that
is there and transmute it to a form we can absorb. Goats eat
those plants and the organic sodium goes into their milk. Goat
whey is the clear fluid that is in the milk. It is separated
from the milk solids during the cheese making process and is
very rich in organic sodium. Dr. Jensen insisted that every
person with arthritis, take goat whey to help dissolve the
arthritic crystals and help them be reabsorbed by the bone. The
organic sodium in goat whey also helps to relieve inflammation.
It can be taken in powdered form in a cup of hot water. It
tastes salty much like bullion. Goat mineral whey also comes in
capsule form.

So, the first cause of arthritis is neglecting to
consume the foods we need that are high in organic sodium and
organic minerals. The second cause is consuming “foods” that
actually drain the body of the sodium, calcium, minerals and B
vitamins that are already there. Some of these “foods” are
coffee, sugar, table salt, black tea, chocolate and sodas
(sweetened with sugar or nutra-sweet). In order to process
these unnatural foods, the body has to use up its reserves of
sodium, calcium, minerals and vitamins and these unnatural foods
have no nutrients in them to give back to the body. Over time
the body is in a deficit of nutrients just like an empty bank
account is in deficit of dollars.

The third cause of arthritis is long-term stress.
Stress causes the body to burn up nutrients very rapidly and if
one is not eating properly to replace these nutrients, arthritis
can occur. Organic sodium and B vitamins in the body are the
first elements to be used up under stress. Without natural
sodium in the body, inflammation takes place. Without B
vitamins the nervous system and the adrenal glands become weak.
Stress weakens the adrenal glands so they are no longer able to
produce normal amounts of cortisol. A lack of cortisol also
causes inflammation. When people go to the doctor with
arthritis, they usually receive cortisone and it may reduce
their symptoms. After a while, if they don’t change their diets
and lifestyles and they continue taking the cortisone, they can
have very bad side effects.

To prevent arthritis or to help it to heal, one needs
organic sodium and all of the B vitamins in the form of a B
complex. Foods high in sodium are: GOAT WHEY, celery, dark
green leafy vegetables, beet tops, dandelion greens,
strawberries and okra. Foods high in the B vitamins are RICE
BRAN SYRUP, brown rice, rice bran, oats, Brewer’s yeast,
cornmeal, almonds and alfalfa. ALFALFA TABLETS are high in B
vitamins and minerals. They are also high in chlorophyll that
cleans the blood and liver and fiber that cleanses the bowel.
Because of all of the wonderful nutrients in alfalfa tablets,
they have been known to help arthritis tremendously.
Glucosamine Sulfate helps to support the joints and build
healthy connective tissue as well. Tumeric, aloe vera juice and
white willow bark also help to relieve inflammation and pain.
One must also avoid all of the foods listed in this letter that
are completely deficient in nutrients.

Soaking in hot baths with three cups of Epsom salts can
be very soothing for those with arthritis. Epsom Salts are high
in magnesium and help the muscles relax. Castor oil packs on
affected areas can truly help to relieve pain and dissolve
crystals. Dr. Christopher’s Complete Tissue and Bone Cream
combined with Eucalyptus or Peppermint oil rubbed into aching
joints has helped many. Arnica cream has often helped as well.

Finally, review your life. Let go of what is stressful.
Balance stress with deep breathing, nice music, relaxing walks
in nature or reading a pleasant book. Avoid loud and aggressive
people. Do things that bring you joy!

Warm castor oil in a small pan. Do not boil. Dip a
cotton or wool flannel cloth into the oil and apply to affected
area. Cover first with plastic wrap and then a towel. Place a
heating pad on top of the pack. Turn the heating pad on and
leave it on for about an hour. Castor oil packs can work

Foods to Avoid

Here's a list of the top ten foods to avoid, according to Dr. Ted Broer:

1. Pork/High Fat Luncheon Meats
2. Shellfish
3. Margarine/Hydrogenated Oils
4. Aspartame / Nutrasweet
5. Junk Food
6. MSG
7. Chlorine / Flouride
8. High Fat Dairy Products
9. Caffeine
10. Alcohol

Dr. Mercola would add that everyone should avoid overconsumption of grains, potatoes, sweets, and other starchy and sugary foods. This impacts negatively on insulin production, resulting in obesity, diabetes, and more. He's particularly focused upon avoiding grains because in many cases, there is the danger of acrylamide consumption, which is toxic. Eat grains rarely, avoid wheat, and always buy organic.

Dr. Mercola would also include Splenda along with Aspartame on the list of foods to avoid. He considers it as dangerous, if not more so, as Nutrasweet. Poison.

Mike Adams would say don't eat any processed meats, not just the high-fat ones. He has a great book, Grocery Warning, as well as a fantastic website and newsletter (free) at his site, NewsTarget. More than can be put in this posting, the summary of studies linking sodium nitrite (hot dogs, sandwich meat, pepperoni) to cancer alone is worth the read.

Great Coupon/Savings Site

Here's a great online coupon/savings site: TechBargains.Com. Don't let the name fool you: lots more than techie stuff here, including online sites with free shipping. And, best of all, a column that lets you know when the deals are expiring. Nice.
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