Thursday, August 31, 2006

And we wonder why our kids are fat, lazy, and suffer from ADD

Well the geniuses are at it again. Amidst all of the stories of obesity among children from lack of exercise, kids being obsessed with consumerism and gadgets, and increasing accounts of ADD we get these. I mean come on, carts with TV's? My first reaction was "I can't believe we have become this desperate to keep our kids entertained". I'm sure other parents are thrilled. They can't tell there kids no to soda and fruit loops so plopping them in front of Bob the Builder will be a godsend. I can picture these kids with glassy eyes being torn away from the TV at home, set in their carseats in the family SUV with the DVD player on, then getting in one of these new carts at the supermarket. Kids will be so biased towards screens that by the time they are in school they won't be able to relate to real people. Schools will be better off having teachers on television doing all of the teaching with some flunky sitting on the sidelines to keep order.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An Amazing Sunset

The Other night my cooking was interrupted by a beautiful sunset. To the north, above the trees in my yard, the sky was a gorgeous blue. I had to go to the end of my driveway to view the west.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Media Misses the Point on Organics

Unfortunately my computer at work opens to the MSN homepage. However, sometimes it's fun to read the "Katie Couric" type news stories that make up the MSN news page. Today, however, I stumbled upon this article. It lays out all of the information on how organic milk is the same as conventional milk. Believe what you may about the actual nutritional content (personally I believe organics have more nutrients), but one of the main concerns is that this article totally overlooks is the pollution and environmental costs associated with factory farms. Small, conventional local dairies I have no problem with, however most conventional milk comes from factory farm dairies. These factory farms not only are inhumane because the cows are denied any of their natural instincts like walking, like the cows to the left, they cause excessive amounts of nitrates in groundwater and streams from the large amount of manure runoff, the hormones and antibiotics that they are injected with also ends up in the local water (even if these aren't detected in the milk-which I don't completely buy anyhow). That said-I would still buy dairy products from a local dairy that is not organic (like Tetzners here in northern Wisco or Lochmead or Umpqua like I bought in Oregon (none of these use growth hormones) instead of Horizon organic milk. Horizon follows the organic standards, but they are close to factory farms in terms of size, since they were bought out by Kraft. Organic Valley is a better option for a national organic brand. I wish the mainstream media would stop reporting only part of the story and only focus on one area, instead of looking at the whole picture. Organic and local food production is the future if we want clean water and a healthy earth for tomorrow.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Buying Local Food is Sustainable

I've been really fascinated with local food production for years now, but I've been hearing more and more about it in the media. Last week on NPR during Talk of the Nation they had a segment on eating local. One of the guests was Brian Halweil the author of the book Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket, which I plan on inter-library loaning tomorrow. The show brought up how many parts of the Midwest (prime farmland) grow mostly corn and soybeans and end up importing all of their food. The corn is made into high fructose corn syrup and much of the soybeans are made into partially hydrogenated soybean oil. One of those two ingredients are in most of the food in a conventional grocery store. And we wonder why we have an obesity problem. Go up to Canada. They don't put corn syrup in their Cokes. But because our government continues to subsidize these crops farmers in the heartland have no incentive to grow other crops. However, the small production farmers that are creating CSA's (community supported agriculture) should be the way of the future. They are becoming very popular in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Not only does the food generally taste better, it is much more environmentally sound because it travels less and the farmers are generally using more sustainable techniques (organic, biodynamic, etc.). Farmers markets are another way to get wonderful local food-not only produce, but meats, cheeses, eggs, honey, fish, and lucky for easterners Maple Syrup. Farmers markets are becoming more popular every year. Grocery stores (especially COOP's) one can search out local food. There are often dairy products that are regionally produced, which provides a better option than one from a national brand shipped 1000's of miles. The more we buy local the fewer semis we have littering the highways. Restaurants are beginning to even get in on the local movement. One diner in Vermont took it to the extreme, trying to get everything from a 70 mile radius. Even the Oregon fastfood joint Burgerville makes an emphasis on getting only Oregon Beef and Oregon strawberries or their shakes. Even up here in the boonies we have a coffeeshop called the Black Cat, that gets a lot of their produce local and organic, as well as their fish for chowders, and wild rice for salads. There is even a fun little diner,the Delta Diner, that gets it's bread and meats locally. Every little bit helps. My goal is to get my friends and family to try and seek out the most localized product when making a purchase. Perhaps instead of that iceburg lettuce from California, go for the spinach that is grown in the same state. Or instead of the chicken from god knows where, stop at the local butcher shop to see what meats are local. Tonight I enjoyed a fish sandwich (locally harvested Lake Superior Lake Trout), with fresh veggies from the farmers market and bread from the local bakery, and a baked potato (also from market) with Wisconsin sour cream and chives from my backyard. I didn't even realize until I sat down to eat, how much of my food was local. And boy was it tasty.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Peaceful hike in the Northwoods

Last weekend my partner,two dogs, and I took a drive to St Peter's Dome in the Chequamegon National Forest. It's only about 1.75 mile hike to the top, but the view is spectacular. I've been up there every season (even in the winter through several feet of snow). St Peter's Dome or Old Baldy as it's locally known, is part of the Penokee Mountain range. They are not much more than big hills anymore, but 1.9 billion years ago the mountains that spanned Wisconsin into Canada rivaled the Rockies or Himalayas. More on Wisconsin mountain history here.

From the same trailhead one can visit Morgan Falls, a gorgeous falls carved in red granite.
The biggest bummer of the whole trip is how the Forest Service charges parking fees for trailheads. Out in Oregon I had to buy a Northwest Forest Pass for like $30. The local one here costs $10 yearly for several areas regionally. I would just prefer no fees and a crumby parking lot. Or better yet our taxes to pay for maintenance instead of wars.
Directions to Morgan Falls and St Peters Dome are here.

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The GOP must be Bored

Well the Republicans are at it again. I guess they feel the need to smear anyone who has some type of political power against them. This time it's Markos Moulitsas Zuniga from the Daily Kos. Because Kos had so much influence in the Lamont-Leiberman race, helping Webb gain points in the VA Senate race, and Tester in Montana's Senate race the RNC feel that they the need to intervene. Therefore on the RNC website they attack Markos and the Daily Kos and once again try to make the idea of liberalism a horrific crime. Even stranger is their first point ripping Markos for taking a vacation. What is the deal with that. Bush took a vacation in the middle of the Hezbollah Israel conflict. Still my favorite from the RNC is this picture:
Check out the little airbrushed moustache under Howard Dean's nose. Oh, and look, there's Markos again. They just can't get enough.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Look out all of you single liberal guys

That's right, the wonderful dating service conservative match has revolutionized the online dating world. Their motto "Sweethearts not Bleeding Hearts". I guess being kind and compassionate don't apply to these gals. You need to not care about your fellow Americans, only your money and yourself. Oh yeah, you probably need a bitchin' ride as well.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Liberals in Rural America

Okay, I'll admit it I live out in the boonies. Bayfield County has no stoplights, a population of 15,013, with a density of 10 people per sq mile. But while we may be rural, we are a progressive stronghold. In 2004 we went 60%-39% Kerry. (Actually I moved away from the area for a short time and I was living in Boundry county in Idaho that went 69%-29% Bush. I was one of the 1268 people that voted for Kerry in that county.)

Bayfield County is at the very top of Wi-Boundry County is at the very top of ID

I just don't want white rural America to be thought of as only republican territory. Just down the road from me a guy proudly displays this sign on his land

This guy is not an elite. He has a old house and rides 4 wheelers around. He doesn't like big government, and he's pretty ticked off at Bush. What makes him different from the struggling country boys of Nebraska or Kansas or Eastern Oregon. We need to get rural America back into the hands of democrats and away from the religious right and wingnuts. I heard a great interview with Jack Carter on Wisconsin Public Radio today. He spoke of travelling to rural Nevada while campaigning for his Senate bid. He reported that there are a lot of people out there that are very unhappy with the Republican Party. I think they may begin to see that tax breaks for the rich may not help them after all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Feingold Running For President?

Russ Feingold was in northern Wisconsin yesterday doing his listening sessions. He spoke a lot about national healthcare and how much support it's beginning to get, even from people who didn't support it in the past. That is music to my ears. I have had no health insurance for years. Luckily I am a fairly healthy person, but whe the occasional ailment comes up I pretty much ignore the problem and hope it goes away. I also believe that if taxpayers are forced to pay the bill, both the government and the taxpayers will focus more on healthy lifestyles and less on using drugs as the cure all. Feingold also said he has not made a decision on whether to run for president in '08. He said "I really like what I am doing. This is my dream job." referring to his being a senator and being on influential committees. Well if he decides to run I will support him.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Don't Want to See Wisconsin Legalize Bigotry

This is exactly what could happen if Wisconsin voters allow the constitutional ban on November 7th. It reads

"Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state."

Not only does this deny gay families the right to have a loving family, it also endangers legal protections now shared by all unmarried couples. I believe individuals in commited relationships should have the same rights as individuals who have filed the legal papers to be what the government calls "married". This amendment must be stopped. Wisconsin has a chance to show that we are progressive thinkers and refuse to follow the bigotry that other states followed.
Fair Wisconsin is the leading opponent to this bill. They have a wonderful website with ways that we can take action. There's less than 3 months.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

When it come to politics a local product is not always the right choice

This statement is perfectly illustrated in the Wisconsin attorney General race. JB Van Hollen is the leading republican candidate running for AG. Because I live in his neck of the woods I see a lot of his yard signs scattered across the area. I wonder how many
of his "supporters" support him because of his extreme right wing views or because he's a local boy. However, his views are way out of line with the progressive political views and the casual laid back attitude of the northwoods. For example he strongly supports photo ID's for voting and even suggests having security patrol polling stations. He has compared abortion to homicide. He's very opposed to any kind of gay rights. And perhaps his most famous display of paranoia is his obsession with terrorism. He's the guy who claimed that terrorists were training in Wisconsin. When questioned about this statement he provided no evidence, but mentioned the Project ELF vandalism and the pipe bombs found downstate. His website even contains flashing images of the World Trade Center collapsing. JB Van Hollen is out of touch with the real problems that Wisconsin faces. I'm calling on all of the people of Wisconsin, especially my peers up north, to take a closer look at what Van Hollen stands for. It's much worse to have a local politician in a high position whose actions we will be ashamed of, than not to have a local politician there at all.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

BurdockBoy and Blackberries

Well I guess since this is my first entry I should introduce my avatar.....

and me

Okay enough of that.

Well summer is definitely here in Wisconsin. The fawns are keeping up with their mothers. The bucks have antlers that are less fuzzy. The raspberries have dried up and the blackberries are out in full force. Because of our dry summer the berries have been pretty small this year (as you can see from the pictue below) but that won't stop me from making jam. This year I'm trying sweetining with fruit juice only.

The Berry farms up in Bayfield are having a good year with their raspberries and blueberries. The two farms that I am familiar with that have organic berries are Northwind Farm and Blue Vista Farm. Northwind Farm is more progressive. Tom Galazen, the owner, grows all organic fruits. He also runs his farm on renewable energy. Not only is his produce available at the farmstand, he also sells his fruit through the Chequamegon COOP in Ashland and Wild By Nature in Bayfield.