Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Wolves are Under Fire Once Again

A new ad being put out by the Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association, Wisconsin’s six Safari Club International Chapters and houndsmen from the Wisconsin Bear Hunters’ is trying to portray the wolf as a vicious killer, but not just of animals, but also people.

"Little Red Riding Hood warned us about wolf,” the ad states, “and Little Red Riding Hood was right.” The ad goes on to cite DNR statistics showing that wolf attacks on livestock have tripled over the last three years. The ad concludes with a view of kids at a playground being closely watched by a wolf. Ahh propaganda at its finest.

What I find absurd is the Wisconsin Bear Hunters' contribution to the ad. I have no respect for them. They helped Wisconsin become one of the few states that allows both the usage of dogs and baiting to hunt bear. Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura perhaps commented on this nature of hunting best when he said "Going out there and putting jelly doughnuts down, and Yogi comes up and sits there and thinks he's found the mother lode for five days in a row and then you back-shoot him from a tree?...That ain't sport that's an assassination." To make matters worse, if one of the hunters dogs are killed by a wolf, the hunters are reimbursed by the state. The extra fee on my endangered resources license plates help pay for that.

Still the ad trying to show the wolf as a serious threat to children is disturbing. The truth is, there have been no wolf attacks on people in Wisconsin, and there have been very few anywhere, unless the wolves were rabid or being fed. Ranchers and farmers lose much more livestock to weather, disease, and other predators than they do to the wolves. So why is the wolf being used as a scapegoat? Perhaps it's in our folklore.

Most of the European based stories and folklore seem to portray the wolf as the evil killer. We hear the stories of Little Red Ridinghood, the Three Little Pigs, Peter and the Wolf, and even in Norse mythology with Fenrir, the wolf offspring of Loki, who bit Odin's head off. Even the bible had Jesus protecting the sheep from the wolves implying the wolves as sinful or evil. Perhaps the worst was using wolves to signify the Nazis.

However, I have also found some cultures to view the wolf differently. The historic cultures that had more of a kinship between humans and animals seemed to respect the wolf. In Japanese folklore the wolf was often viewed as a messenger or even protector of the forest and mountains, guarding against fires and excessive cutting of trees. Native Americans had stories of the wolf as a great hunter. The eskimos admired the wolf for its survival skills. Even Romulus and Remus were kept alive by suckling on a she-wolf. Today it's the ecologists who cite the importance of the wolf for diversity and game animal control (we have too large of a deer population here in Northern Wisconsin).

For me, the wolf is a beautiful animal that has it's place in the environment. They were here before the ranchers or the hunters and cause less environmental destruction than cattle or sheep (or the hunters with their ATV's tearing through the woods). The wolf should be here to stay. I'll end my rant now.

Here are a couple links:

The Timber Wolf Alliance has a lot of info one the Wisconsin wolf packs.

Wolf Country has some interesting wolf stories and folklore. As does Wolf Song Alaska

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is the US Senate Actually Attempting To Deal With Sweatshops?

When I first saw this article, please follow my train of thought here, I figured it was just another attempt to limit free trade by Senator Dorgan that would go nowhere fast. Then I read that Republican Graham from South Carolina has also sponsored the bill making it slightly bipartisan. I also remembered that the Senate and House are now controlled by the Democrats. Finally, I thought "maybe this bill will actually do something this time".

Of Course an anti-sweatshop labor bill is long overdue. United States corporations have been reaping the benefits of slave-like-labour ever since free trade has flourished and "buy American" is no longer a mantra among Americans (except perhaps a few ignorant GM/Ford buyers who actually believe the trucks they purchased are purely American). Corporations have fought battles to maintain their precious labels, logos, and trademarks, but how much priority have they put into their workers? Foreign firms that sell to US retailers are frequently exposed for child or sweatshop labour. One such exposure was the Harvest Rich Factory in Bangladesh. After an English news channel broke the story of child labour at the factory, Harvest Rich fired a number of teenagers only to rehire them later as "malnourished adults" instantly changing them from 13 year old children to 18-19 year old young adults. Next time your at Wal*Mart contemplating that sweater for $12.88, picture your 14 year old daughter or neice sitting in a hot factory for 16 hour shifts making only pennies each hour. Is frugality really worth the dark energy that garment is tainted with?

Still, how effective would the proposed Senate bill be if it were to make it through Congress? There are a couple interesting measures to it. One I find amusing would turn corporations on each other. A company could file a complaint with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) alleging that its competitor was selling products made in sweatshops. If the complaint was valid, the company would be fined $10,000 and ordered to stop purchasing from the firm conducting sweatshop labor practices. While I find $10,000 an inadequate fine for a corporation, perhaps the negative publicity would add to the effect.

Overall, this is a bill that takes a step in the right direction. I'm glad one of my Senators has supported it and I'm sure my representative will as well, due to his supporting similar measures in the past. So please if you are a conscious consumer here in the States please contact your Congress people on the matter. Even if the issue only grabs media attention, perhaps more consumers will begin to think holisticallly about their purchases. Below are some more details:


Title: A bill to amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to prohibit the import, export, and sale of goods made with sweatshop labor, and for other purposes.

Sponsor: Sen Dorgan, Byron L. [ND] (introduced 1/23/2007) Cosponsors (5)

Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] - 1/23/2007
Sen Byrd, Robert C. [WV] - 1/23/2007
Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] - 1/23/2007
Sen Graham, Lindsey [SC] - 1/23/2007
Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] - 1/23/2007


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Movin' To North Dakota Soon Gonna Be An Industrial Hemp Tycoon

Well, maybe I could. Proposed Senate Bill 2099 would allow oilseed processors to crush industrial hemp seeds in North Dakota. The North Dakota Ag has already been licensing farmers to grow industrial hemp. In fact, one of North Dakota's Reps received the first license.

Still, there seems to be one tiny obstacle. The DEA. Because industrial hemp and marijuana are classified as the same plant by the US government (30 other industrial nations recognise the difference), the DEA would never allow industrial hemp to be grown without an obscene amount of rules. Still, North Dakota is trying to ensure the DEA that they could monitor the plant from seed to processing.

What a headache for such a harmless plant. Any high school kid from the Midwest can tell you that industrial hemp, or ditch weed as we called it (volunteer hemp plants leftover from the war effort in the 1940's), contains so little THC that one would have to chain smoke countless joints to get any sort of buzz. Even then, one would probably be experiencing a high from smoke inhalation. Scientifically speaking, industrial hemp contains between .05-1% THC while marijuana contains between 3-20% THC.

So what is the DEA really afraid of? Could there perhaps be some other parties, oh I don't know, like corporations, that are trying to suppress hemp from returning. After all most people today have begun learning the benefits of hemp. It is estimated that there are over 25,000 uses. Here are few:

*The oil produced from the seed is one of the healthiest oils on the market. It contains the highest levels of polyunsaturated fat and amino acids such as linoleic acid.

*The plant is very resistant to pests requiring no use for pesticides, insecticides, or fungicides.

*There is great potential for creating renewable fuels from hemp (both from the oil and cellulose). In addition, because growing it uses so little chemicals and absorbs so much carbon, growing hemp would reduce carbon emissions thus helping to fight global warming.

*It's the toughest fiber-allowing for countless possibilities of clothes (from linen quality to canvass), paper, and even boards. All this from a plant that grows 1 ft a week.

*For more facts on industrial hemp visit the NAIHC website. With such a wealth of information, there's no need for me to attempt regurgitation.

I feel it's long overdue for the United States to come to its senses and allow hemp to bail us out on some things. Canada legalised industrial hemp in 1988, it's high time for the US to follow-no pun intented, yeah actually there is.

Virgin Mary or Something a bit Less Holy-We May Never Know

Every now and then one of these stories seem to pop up in the news. Call me a skeptic, but the presence of an icy blob that has as much of a resemblance to the Virgin Mary as much as it does a sex toy, seems unlikely to heal a womans lump from her breast.

Of course people like myself passing along this fluff does not help. I'm off to read some real news.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Coincidences...Or Are They?

Is it just me, or does the gentleman on this cheap paperpack thriller look a bit like a certain former president.

And this painting at the Grandview baseball diamond, doesn't it have a striking resemblance to a breakfast cereal cartoon character.


Putting a Spin on the Family Casserole

How many people grew up in a family where frugality and home cooking went together hand in hand? Where the weekly casserole contained some type of condensed soup or the meatloaf consisted of the weeks leftovers. Jell-o salads seemed to be at every potluck and the coffee brewing in the kitchen was Folgers from the big red can.

Growing up with a mother who was raised Mennonite was both a culinary dream and nightmare. I grew up with a large garden eating fresh vegetables, homemade pies, cookies, bread with current jelly, cinnamon rolls, and of course the Mennonite staple; casseroles. We never had TV dinners or any type of convenience food, except perhaps the occasional frozen pizza and lunch meat for sandwiches. My father seemed to step-up the diversity by preparing slightly more exotic dishes such as spaghetti, still with home canned tomatoes, or tacos with homemade salsa or hot sauce. However, all this home cooked goodness lacked a few things. Ethnic foods were unknown to me. Hummus, pesto, nori rolls, and curries, all foods I take for granted now, were not introduced to me until around college. I never even had a bagel until I was like 18.

Today, I try to blend the simplicity of the foods I grew up with, but still mix in a variety of cultures and other foods. I buy a variety of grains in bulk-couscous, millet, barley, rice,etc to use for the breads I bake. My morning oatmeal varies from cinnamon raisin to banana walnut to apricot with maple syrup, instead of only the honey and raisin I grew up with. There are a couple types of seaweed in my cupboard and miso in my refrigerator.

But sometimes I get a craving for one of my mothers traditional meals. One that often appeared on the dinner table was tuna and noodle casserole, homemade chunky applesauce, and garden peas. Well over the years I have slowly adopted the tuna casserole to blend with my own eating habits. It no longer contains condensed cream of mushroom soup, but instead Amy's or Imagine's soup-or my own if I'm extra ambitious. The noodles are a good quality egg noodle. The mushrooms are fresh-usually portabella or crimini. Instead of the saltine crackers mixed with butter for the crispy topping I use crushed kettle chips. And the result: A childhood comfort food to fit my new taste buds.

Tuna and Noodle Casserole

8-10 oz of Egg Noodles
2 Small cans of Tuna (not drained)
16 oz of Mushroom Soup
1 stalk of celery
1-2 C of mushrooms
1 C shredded cheese (optional) I prefer cheddar or Gouda
1 C crushed kettle chips (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

*Cook noodles, drain, and place in a casserole dish
*saute celery and mushrooms just until the mushrooms begin to release their juices
*Add celery and mushrooms, undrained tuna, soup, and cheese if using to the noodles and mix together (If it seems to dry add some more soup, milk, broth, or even water
*add salt and pepper
*Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes, remove and add chips to the top
*Bake for another 15 minutes
*Serve with chunky applesauce and peas-oh wait that's just me

Some of the new ingredients
Adding the contents

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets a hankering for a food from his childhood. What foods do you often think about from your childhood-good or bad?

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Who is the Sicko that Draws this Stuff?

Yesterday I was sitting on my bathroom floor staring at my water heater, you know like any normal person, when I was struck by the graphic nature of the warning label. I mean come on, wasn't the red burn on the flesh of the hand enough? Do we really need the guy engulfed in flames?

Well it got me thinking. Sometimes the most harmless things have warning labels. Or the labels only address acute problems like "This coffee is hot, don't spill it on yourself and sue us, moron."

So let me propose labels for those things that are not as obvious. I believe cars should include warning labels with an ice chunk breaking into the ocean, trees burning, and some guy drowning. Yeah. But first, my medicated dairy cow labels. (rough draft)

Please share any warning labels you feel that are needed.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Waffles: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

I love waffles, but have been against having yet another small electric appliance in the house that only does one thing. I already got rid of my electric coffee maker and electric beater, perhaps even my food processor will one day vanish from the kitchen, so an electric waffle maker was out of the question. Then last summer I was rummaging through my mother's attic and came across an old cast iron waffle maker designed for cooking on a range top (given its age probably a wood cooking stove). I was pretty excited. At the time I was living out of my car cooking over a coleman stove so the thought of waffles instead of pancakes and french toast was a welcomed change. However, due to the poor seasoning of the waffle iron and the decades of neglect, I was very disappointed the first time I tried using it. My result was a waffle caked to the iron with only a small remnant worth salvaging. Needless to say, the rest of the batter was transformed into pancakes.

Well recently, having a strong craving for waffles, I dug out the iron from the back of my cupboard and decided to give another go. Awhile back I asked Cheryl at Free Range Living if she had any tips on seasoning cast iron because she seemed to have a knack of bringing old cookware back from the dead. Gaining some advice, I soaked the inside in sunflower oil for about two days and wiped it clean with a rag. Then I sprayed it with canola oil and slowly heated it up to a fairly high temperature before adding the batter. The result: Crispy waffles that didn't stick and a wonderful dinner. Two thumbs way up.

Here's my quick and easy waffle recipe.

3/4 C white flour (I use Gold'n white)
3/4 C whole wheat flour (or experiment with other whole grains like rye or quinoa)
1 T sugar
1 T Baking Powder (rounded)
1/2 t salt
1 C milk
2 eggs separated- whites beaten
3 T oil
1 t vanilla

* combine dry ingredients
* combine wet ingredients (yokes but not whites)
* mix dry and wet together slowly
* fold in beaten egg whites
* Bake in preheated waffle iron
* enjoy with maple syrup or vanilla ice cream and seasonal fruit
or like in Utah, honey

My resurrected waffle iron circa 1910

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bigotry for the 21st Century

With the recent constitutional ban of gay marriage and civil unions here in Wisconsin, I have come to believe that many feel discrimination of homosexuals is acceptable. Even up here in the Northwoods, an area that votes solidly democrat (over 60%), more people voted "yes" to add an amendment to ban gay marriage. That means thousands of people voted a straight dem ticket only to vote "yes" on a discrimination issue. Bastards. I did, however, look at my township which voted 12 -35 "No" (let's hear it for the Keystoner's).

Perhaps I am naive or out of touch, but I really don't understand how educated, normally rational people can openly show bigotry towards another group of individuals that pose no threat to them. Did we not learn anything from the civil rights? Womyns rights? Please, enlighten me.

The Christian Right has spread their hate for too long. Science is beginning to debunk their theories of homosexuality being unnatural, like this Oregon State University study. We will always have paranoid wacko's like this, but the rest of us need to evolve into the 21st century and promote love and equality for all. None of us are really that different from each other.


No Ice Storm, Just Icicles

It was too cold up hear for an ice storm, but today the warm sun helped to bring temps out of the single digits and make for some lovely photo ops.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Lost Art of Pen palling or Why I Enjoy Blogging (Alternative Title)

When I was in high school and even early stages of college I had several pen pals. Because I am an old timer, it should be noted that this was before blogging, chat rooms were just starting out, and not everyone had emails. We didn't even have internet in our high school-only over at the vocational center. I remember my friend getting excited because he was able to print out all of the Senators contact information with the click of a mouse. Finding taboo websites such as Dan's Gallery of the Grotesque or one that had the complete Unibombers Manifesto seemed cool.

So with access to the web so limited, people like myself found pen palling an interesting way to meet people in other parts of the world or country who shared similar interests. My longest lasting ones were Cristina from Texas and Cindee from Ohio. We shared stories and dreams, mixed tapes, rambles, and sometimes just boring everyday details of life. We swapped SLAM's, which were homemade booklets or sheets that contained random questions that one was expected to answer. They would get passed around among pen pals until it was filled and returned to the creator. We used the SLAMs to protray our life artistically and throuh our interests. When a SLAM was received, one could thumb through it looking for like-minded souls. At the time I was really into photography, cemeteries/death, the Cure, the Smiths, and the Bauhaus. I tended to read existentialist stuff. So most of my pen pals ended up to be the "goth" type.

Well I guess those days are gone. I no longer dye my hair black or green, I am not fascinated with death, but I still listen to the Smiths. However, I do still get enjoyment of communicating with people around the country and World. I believe that is where blogging has fit into my life. I think it is wonderful that I am able to share stories and discuss current events and beliefs with people from all over. I also enjoy peeping in on others peoples little window of their lives. Thank you all for being there.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Television For Border Collies

Well Emma's has a new hobby: Squirellwatchin'. This little fellow has been raiding the birdfeeders much to the delight of Emma. She could spend hours watching.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

What Is The What

I have been a fan of Dave Eggers ever since I first read the title page of his first book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. There was his photo surrounded by a bunch of animals with the note that Mr Eggers has no pets. Then came You Shall Know Our Velocity, the book where the story begins on the front cover and continues with no title page, intro, or preface. It's about two Wisconsin men in their 20's travelling the world giving money away, while trying to forget the death of their friend. There's a passage where they attempt to tape $300 to a goat with the message "Here I am Rock You Like A Hurricane" (a little 1980's metal flashback). His newest book, What is the What, still contains Egger's prose. The cover looks like an old grade school library bound non fiction book, but the story is not as lighthearted. It's a novel about Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Sudanese Lost Boys from the Second Sudanese Civil War. Some of the characters are composites, some things are fictionalized, but the overall situations depicted are true.

Before reading this book I was not familiar with the differences between the current situation in Darfur and the civil war of the 80's and 90's. The civil war written about in What is the What began in 1987 and is estimated to have displaced 4 million people and to have killed 1.9 million civilians (the highest since WW II). The Lost Boys were 25,000 3-13 year old boys who fled their villages to settle in refugee camps in Ethiopia and later Kenya. Deng was one of the 3,800 who later were allowed to resettle in the United States. Recently, a documentary about the Lost Boys called "God Grew Tired of Us" was released. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have tried to bring some attention to the film.

What is the What
is the most powerful novel I have read for awhile so I felt the need to share my enthusiasm. It also brings up another horrific situation many of us have turned a blind eye towards, like Rwanda, East Timor, Bosnia and currently Darfur. It really makes one think of the injustice our world has to offer.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Have to Do Another Baby Post

Allright I am still experiencing the proud parent syndrome so I'm doing another post on Kalea. Things are still going well and she has been very peaceful. I find myself waking up and just watching her sleep.

The biggest broblem has been dealing with the diaper covers-the pee seems to leak out of the leg holes quite often resulting in more already dreaded amounts of laundry (I am thankful for running water and an efficient washer). We haven't tried the vinyl pullovers because we have been trying to avoid plastic. Still, if anyone has any tips about preventing leaking with the cloth prefolds I'd love to hear them.


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Welcome Kalea!

As many of you have probably correctly guessed, my lack of posting lately is due to the demands of parenthood. Today is actually my first interaction with the internet.

On Jan 3 we welcomed Kalea into our home. She weighed 7 lbs 12 oz. She was a lovely pink color and surprisingly very clean. Some of the movies we watched showed strange blue coloured babies so I was prepared, but needn't have been. She even began breathing on her own-none of those syringe things. We waited to cut the cord until the placenta completely stopped pulsing. What an amazing thing. The placenta even contains a tree of life. I won't post the picture though. It was a wonderful, completely natural homebirth that only took eight hours. The midwives were quite pleased that they didn't even have to miss a night away from their families.

After transition, Moh ended up labouring in the birthing tub, but we got out for the actual delivery. What a magical experience.

Currently Moh is recovering well. Breastfeeding is going smoothly and we look forward to beautiful times ahead.

Look forward to hearing from and visiting all of my online friends soon.


Monday, January 01, 2007

We Are What We Drive Part 2

Growing up in a small town in Illinois wasn't very exciting. It was the desire of most teenagers to want their own car. A car meant we could find or create our own fun. We didn't want to have to ask our parents to use their Bonneville or Mercury- we wanted our own freedom. I especially needed a vehicle because I lived about six miles out of town. It was tough to get my friends to spend precious gas money to come pick me up.

By the time I was 15 I was already shopping around for the perfect car to buy. Of course my parents would have to help because I only had a little money saved up. I searched the classified and tooled through the used car lots with my older driving friend. At the time I liked old classic cars from the late sixties. I thought an old GTO would be perfect. My parents thought differently. When the day arrived for a car, my money already spent on concert tickets, my father bought me a 1977 Impala for $400. The car was the ugliest thing in town. Lime green cracked vinyl roof, rusted avocado green body, torn bench seats, Am/FM radio with blown out speakers, but still it would have to do. I stuck some Grateful Dead stickers on it, bought a tape deck, wired up some old stereo speakers, pinned-up the sagging roof fabric, and placed some blankets over the seats. It was good to go.

Looking back the car was an environmental nightmare. It leaked and burned about a quart of oil a day and got around nine miles to the gallon. My friend and I actually drove the thing up to the UP of Michigan to go camping when we were sixteen. I don't even want to think about how many gallons of gas we consumed on that trip.

In retrospect, for $400 the car took me many places and gave me some good times- concerts, road trips, awkward romantic experiences, and of course freedom. So what did the car say about me? Poor? Whitetrash? Hippie kid? Yeah, the innocence of youth.
The only picture I could find of the beast. Taken during a camping trip to northern Wisconsin with my friend when we were 16, in June 1993.

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We Still Have Some Snow

After a freakish New Year's Eve rainstorm, we received a couple inches of frosty snow. What a gorgeous morning.
It's been so warm even Fish Creek is flowing. I stepped out my door and could hear the small roar.