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The Thin Veneer of Southern Charm April 30, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke, People.
46 comments

220px-Shackleton's_Ship_Quest_1921One day, as a gentle Southern lady from Charleston drove cross the Cooper River to Mount Pleasant, she noticed a young man near the top of the bridge.

He was fixin’ to jump.

She stopped her car, rolled down the window and said, “Please don’t jump! Think of your dear mother and father.”

“My mom and dad are both dead, I’m going to jump.”

“Well, think of your sweet wife and precious children.”

“I’m not married, and I don’t have any kids.”

“Well, then, just sing Dixie.”

Little-Miss-ScatterbrainHe gave her a quizzical look, ”What’s Dixie ?”

“Well, bless your heart, you just go ahead and jump, you little Yankee bastard, you’re holding up traffic!”

Aah . . . that’s better!

(E-mail from unknown author sent by Joe M.)

Happy Birthday, Jean!  Have a heaping helping of fun & laughter!

Green America April 30, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Food & Drink, Nature, Sustainable Living.
24 comments

Green America sees a world where all people have enough, where all communities are healthy and safe, and where the bounty of the Earth is preserved for all the generations to come.

If you share that vision, you can learn more by visiting:

Green America: Our Programs 

Each year, Green America publishes National Green Pages to inspire consumers to make greener choices with the green in their wallets.

Green America’s corporate responsibility director, Todd Larsen, crunched the numbers published by the US Department of Labor for the average American household’s 2009 purchases, and came away with an inspiring conclusion and a $300 billion challenge:

If all American households shift just 10 percent of their current spending to green purchases, we could steer $300 billion toward green jobs and the green economy.

Think about it. That’s $300 billion toward businesses that build community… $300 billion toward recycling, composting, and reuse… $300 billion toward reduced energy use… $300 billion toward fair supply chains that protect workers and stop sweatshop abuses.

Equally powerful, the reverse of the equation is true. Shifting 10 percent to green means pulling $300 billion worth of support out of the business-as-usual economy. That’s $300 diverted from supporting fossil-fuel expansion … $300 billion pulled from irresponsible, exploitative banks … $300 billion of support denied to big-box stores with questionable sourcing standards and disastrous carbon footprints.

250px-New_Orleans_City_of_Old_Romance_and_New_Opportunity_Crop_p_23_Moneybags

Green America’s website offers a plethora of articles, tips, techniques, and strategies for greening your purchases:

1.  Borrow, Trade, or Buy Used:  The greenest thing you can do is to not buy new at all. Use Green America’s resources for inspiration on how to barter for books, movies, clothing, food, home repairs, and more.

Bartering: Get What You Need Without Money

Dinner Co-ops: Cook One Meal, Eat for a Week

Neighborhood Home Repair Teams

25 Ways to Give and Get What You Need Without Money

2.  Grow Your Own Food:  When you plant your own garden you can ensure that your food is organic and healthy.  A National Gardening Association study found that the average family spends $70 a year on maintaining a vegetable garden, and grows $600 worth of harvest.

Food Miles and Global Warming

Think Globally, Can Locally

3.  Green Your Home Energy Use:  Switch your lightbulbs, fire your clothes dryer, unplug small appliances that draw electricity even when they’re turned off, or go all the way, with wind, geo-thermal, or solar.

23 Steps for Energy Efficiency

Making Solar Affordable Now

Here’s to a more sustainable and just future for our planet!

Aah . . . that’s better!

21 Ways To Improve Life Balance April 29, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Life Balance.
35 comments

1.  Nurture your body, mind, and spirit.

2.  Exercise is the fountain of youth.  Regular exercise increases metabolism, regulates appetite, improves mood, enhances sleep, and increases energy.

Need some inspiration?  Check out the Fitness-Photo Challenge on As My Camera Sees It and join the 12-week Fitness Challenge.

3.  Get enough rest.  Go to bed and get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.  Take time each day to relax and unwind.

4.  Simplify and unclutter your life.  Less is more.

5.  “Just Say No” to volunteer requests that don’t fit into your schedule or will compromise your sanity.

You are not the general manager of the universe.  Delegate tasks to others.

6.  Slow down.  Allocate enough time for tasks.  Pace yourself.  Tackle major life  changes and challenging projects in “small bites.”  Don’t dump everything into your wheelbarrow at once.

7.  Get organized so everything has its place, with backups for emergencies ~ an extra car key in your wallet or an extra house key hidden in the garden.

8.  Separate idle worries from realistic concerns.  If a situation concerns you, consider what you can do to resolve it.  If you can’t do anything, let go of the churning anxiety.  Keep breathing.

9.  Take things one day at a time.  Don’t worry today about what might happen tomorrow.  If it never happens, you’ll have worried for nothing.  If it does happen, you’ll end up worrying twice.

Worrying is interest paid on a debt we may not owe.

10.  Live within your budget.  Don’t use credit cards for ordinary day-to-day purchases unless you pay off the bill each month.

11. Talk less, listen more.  Learning to K.Y.M.S. (Keep Your Mouth Shut) can prevent an enormous amount of hassle.

12. Do something for the Kid in You everyday.  Build a library of wonderful memories.

13.  Bring a book to read while waiting in line.  Listen to books on tape or uplifting music while driving.  Or use waiting time for mindful meditation or creative visualization.

Waiting time does not have to be wasted time.

14.  Write down thoughts and inspirations.  Keep a folder of favorite quotes on hand.  Make time every day for a few minutes of quiet reflection.

15.  Having problems?  Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don’t wait until you’re in bed to worry about them.

16.  Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often just a smile away.

17. Laugh.  Laugh some more!

18.  Be mindful.  Use all five senses.  Notice the blue sky. Listen to uplifting music. Inhale pleasant scents, aromas, and fragrances.  Savor delicious tastes.  Give someone a hug.

19.  Take your work seriously, but yourself not at all.  Sit on your ego.

20. Develop a forgiving attitude.  Be kind to unkind people; they need it the most.  Hanging on to anger and stale grievances doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you.

21. Be grateful for small blessings.  Before going to sleep, think of one thing you’re grateful for that you’ve never been grateful for before.  When we look for the best in life, we see it.  Gratitude magnifies the good.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  Simplify Your Life * Clearing Clutter * I Don’t Want Stuff Anymore, Only Things (Raptitude)

A Slow Boat To Korea April 28, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People.
20 comments

Once on the West Coast, dad boarded a slow boat to Korea.  On board, he got tapped for clean up detail since he was one of only a handful of new recruits who had not succumbed to seasickness.  He had a chance to practice his disappearing act:

“I expect that I am now about 400 miles out to sea.  We left San Francisco yesterday.  We’re on the Haverford Victory.  It’s not very large.  We have been underway for about 28 hours.  At last I think the fellows are getting over being seasick.”

“We had been at sea for only half an hour when the latrine was full of sick guys.  At chow the first night a lot of fellows were sick in the chow hall. They lost all their K.P.’s that way.  When they found out I wasn’t sick, a sgt. put me to work.  I disappeared in about 10 minutes.”

Wikipedia ~ Victory Ships (in Public Domain)

The crossing from California to Korea coincided with the World Series, with every game played over the loud speakers.  Saturday, Oct. 12:

“Today is our 4th day at sea.  We are approximately half way to the Hawaiian Islands.  We expect to reach there Monday.  So far we have had every World Series game put over the loud speaker system on board. They have programs and music on from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.”

As time and tides rolled by, the constant oceanfront views lost their appeal. Sunday, October 13:

“There is little to write about aboard the ship.  All we see is ocean and more ocean.  Our quarters are down two floors below the main deck. They are pretty crowded.  There are four bunks, one above the other in each group.  They are composed of canvas tied between pieces of pipe on four sides.  Tomorrow we hit Honolulu. I will turn this letter in to be mailed there.”

October 26th, dad shared some thoughts about typhoons and tigers:

“We are nearing Jinsen, Korea at last.  Probably we will arrive in about 3 days.  We have been delayed a couple of times by going around typhoons or something.  One day it was so rough that no one was allowed on deck. A few waves were coming over the side of the ship.”

“I guess I won’t do any deer hunting this year.  Not in Vermont anyway. We have been told that we can hunt in Korea year round.  Partridge and tigers are the most common game. What you could do with a dead tiger is beyond me.”

Two days later, on October 28th, dad had Korea in his sites:

“Tomorrow we are supposed to debark at Jinsen, also known as Inchon.  It is located about halfway up the western coast of Korea.  Korea is about 450 miles long 250 miles wide and is occupied by U.S. and Russia. Russia is north of the 38 degree parallel.  The climate is supposed to be much like New England.”

“Yesterday we passed by the southern tip of Japan proper, close enough so that we could see the surf.  We must have been 3 or 4 miles from shore.  It looked mountainous.”

Continued next Monday . . . The Best Service Assignment Ever!

Create Space For What Matters April 27, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance.
28 comments

170px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_02Often we get so caught up in the To Do Lists of our daily lives that we forget to enjoy the journey of life itself.  In Take Time For Your LifeCheryl Richardson reminds us to become masters of our limited time on this planet.

Creating space for what matters allows us room to breathe.

Instead of feeling like a Pushmi Pullyu headed in two directions at once, or a perpetually late rabbit unsure of which direction to head, we heed our inner wisdom and allow the path to unfold before us.

A few ideas:

JUST BE:  Practice doing nothing * Slow down * Be Here Now * Enjoy quiet contemplation* Watch your breath * Pause and Reflect * Meditate * Relax * Contemplate the bottomless ocean or the infinite night sky * Allow inner peace to surface * Don’t Worry.  Be Happy.

PRACTICE SELF CARE:  Evaluate your life * Reflect on your growth * Make a wish list * Celebrate your successes * Keep your dreams alive * Avoid negative self-talk * Eliminate physical and mental clutter * Give away stuff that makes you sad * Sometimes Less is More

PRIORITIZE:  Eliminate energy drains * Learn to say NO * Put yourself at the top of the list * Spend free time wisely * Ignore external pressure to conform * Get to know the real you * Be nobody but yourself

HAVE FUN:  Be adventurous * Listen to favorite music * Try something new * Laugh out loud * Dance like no one’s watching * Take an evening walk * Watch the moon and stars * Enjoy creative pursuits * Paint~Write~Sing~Cook * Live on Purpose * Fill each day with drops of joy

BUILD COMMUNITY:  Connect * Ask questions * Share your expertise * Contribute to others * Reach out and touch someone

CREATE LIFE BALANCE:  Empower yourself to change * Make healthy eating easy * Make exercise fun * Get a good night’s sleep * Realize that making a living is not synonymous with making a life * Evaluate which discretionary expenses make you happiest * Live below your means

GO WITH THE FLOW:  Notice where your life is abundant * Start a gratitude journal * Accept the what is * Embrace all with Joy * Watch for synchronicity * Let go of expectations * Listen * Let the Universe guide you to what’s next

Tigger-Looking-At-His-TailSmile at the person you’re becoming.

Between the wish and the thing, life lies waiting.

Aah . . . that’s better!

What do you do when you don’t have to do anything?

The Phone Call April 26, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke.
28 comments

180px-Leonardo_Skeleton_1511Husband’s call:

Honey it’s me. I don’t want to alarm you but I was hit by a car as I was leaving the office.

Paula brought me to the hospital. They have checked me over and done some tests and some x-rays.  The blow to my head was severe, but it did not cause any serious internal injury.

However I have three broken ribs , a compound fracture in the left leg, and they think they may have to amputate my right foot.

Wife’s Response:

Who is Paula?

* * *

220px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_27Bonus Laugh:  

A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than the men who mention it.

Aah . . . that’s better!

E-mail from unknown author (sent by Joe M.)

Give Your Brain A Boost . . . With A Book April 25, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Health & Wellness, Meditation.
43 comments

150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052Last week, Andra Watkins (The Accidental Cootchie Mama) shared links to two research studies done to evaluate the impact of reading on brain function:

Brain Function Boosted After Reading A Novel

This study revealed increased brain activity measured in the MRI’s of 21 college students during and after reading the novel Pompeii.

While this is promising news for book lovers, I wish the study had used control groups so we could compare results and determine whether reading novels has a more pronounced effect on the brain than:  watching movies, playing video games, meditating, dining out, texting, yoga, drinking wine, eating chocolate, walking, parasailing, riding a bike, talking to a close friend, having sex, etc.

Since everyone read the same novel, it’s hard to conclude, based on this study alone, that novel reading is better for the brain than other activities, such as reading poetry, attending a concert, watching a ballet, or “getting jiggy with it” by going ballroom dancing.

But reading definitely woke up a few neurons.

How Reading Lights Up Your Mind

Another article with anecdotal evidence about the value of reading (and meditation) for brain health.

Here’s what the article had to say about meditation:

“Meditation has long been studied to better understand how sustaining attention and focus affects the brain. Studies on mindfulness meditation, for example, show that parts of the brain associated with positive mood are activated with the practice of focusing attention.”

I have found this to be true.  Plus the sustained focus and attention carries over in all areas of life. Instead of re-acting to events (using stale beliefs about past experiences), we more mindfully choose how to spend our days.

Sally-BrownPerhaps by curling up with a good book.

And a cup of coffee.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related: Fight Brain Drain & Set Your Mind On Fire (Andra) * Your Brain On Jane (NPR) * Cross Train Your Brain

Cross Train Your Brain April 24, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Meditation.
45 comments

A few weeks ago, we attended a lecture at Freedom Village on Cross Training Your Brain.

We’d heard the speaker, Dr. Kevin W. O’Neill, once before when he presented A Brain Training Symposium.

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Dr. O’Neill reiterated that what benefits the body, benefits the brain:

* Exercise ~ Ball Room Dancing is #1!
* Eat right ~ a Mediterranean Diet is best
* Sleep tight ~ without popping pills
* Don’t let the bed bugs bite
* Manage stress ~ meditation is great
* Focus on positives ~ don’t worry, be happy
* Interact with friends ~ be a social animal
* Tickle your funny bone chakra
* Learn something new today ~ build synapses
* Share your talents/volunteer/help others
* Develop an attitude of gratitude
* Drinking coffee lowers the risk of dementia
* Eat tumeric ~ curried veggies, please
* Play games, solve puzzles, have FUN!
* Live, Love, Laugh, Learn!

A few key points:

(1) Exercise is the fountain of youth when it comes to brain health.  It lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, increases gray matter, improves blood flow to the brain, elevates mood, and reduces stress.  For a 76% reduction in Alzheimer’s risk, try Ballroom Dancing!

(2) Reducing Stress helps maintain brain health ~ try exercise, yoga, tai chi, meditation, or other purposeful pursuits.  And get enough sleep.  Sleep allows neurons to shut down and repair themselves.

(3) A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and veggies, and omega 3 fats helps keep dementia at bay.  Vitamins C, D, and E are key building blocks for brain health.  As is Folic Acid ~ found in dark green veggies, chickpeas, and pinto beans.  Avoid sugar, salt, processed foods, unhealthy fast foods, deep fried food, and saturated fats.

(4) Intellectual Stimulation and Social Engagement are beneficial to brain health as we age.  Playing games and musical instruments helps ward off dementia.  Read books that challenge and inspire you.  Complete challenging puzzles.  Participate in mentally stimulating activities.  Play games that are strategic in nature.  Learn new skills or hobbies.  Join clubs focused on your interests.  Engage in ongoing learning.  Stay involved in the community.  Visit with friends and family.  Volunteer outside the home.

(5)  Go ahead, enjoy your daily dose of caffeine.  According to the research Dr. O’Neill shared, drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day will lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease . . . by 65%!

But don’t just sit around drinking coffee, R~E~A~D!  More on that tomorrow.

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

What do you do to keep your brain sharp?

The Electric Vehicle rEVolution April 23, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Sustainable Living, Travel & Leisure.
19 comments

Last Friday, we attended a Lunch & Learn at Goodwill ~ The Electric Vehicle rEVolution.  Chris Sharek, President of Sharek Solutions, Inc., discussed both pure electrics and hybrid vehicles from his perspective as an Environmental Engineer and Chevy VOLT owner.

A few fun facts:

* This is not “new” technology.  Electric Vehicles have been around since the 1800’s.  In 1900, 28% of all cars made in the US were electric.

Wikipedia ~ Electric Car (in Public Domain)

* EV’s are quiet, reliable, and easy to maintain.  Sharek won’t need his first oil change until he hits 80,000 miles.

* EV’s get great gas mileage.  Sharek has driven 46,000 miles on 200 gallons of gas in the past 3 years.  That’s an impressive 230 mpg!

At present, the owners of Electric Vehicles tend to be Green, Tech-Savvy, Risk Takers . . . like my younger brother who just leased a LEAF:

* My little bro, a techie with a green streak, has solar panels on the roof of his home, soaking up the Colorado sunshine.  For fun, he can watch his meter run backwards as he sells sustainable energy to the power company on sunny days.

* He purchased solar panels for his camper and hooked them up so he can move them around to catch the sunlight while the camper stays cool in the shade of Colorado Pines.

* He latest acquisition is a leased Nissan Leaf which he charges in his garage and at free charging stations around Ft. Collins.  At home, he’s charging it with sunlight from his solar panels.  It costs him about $15 a month for 1,000 miles of drive time.

Nothing like a Leaf to enhance your green techie streak.  That said, the current ownership profile for EV’s will change and expand.  Soon we’ll all be driving electric cars . . . powered by the sun.

Don’t believe me?  Just ask Stephen King:

During a dedication ceremony for a public charging station in downtown Sarasota, Sharek met famed author Stephen King who autographed a novel for Sharek:  “From one Volt owner to another.”

King later endorsed Sharek’s “lucid, fact-filled” book.

Sharek wrote “The Electric Vehicle rEVolution” in 2013 to summarize the first 26,000 miles or almost two years of his electric car experience.

To get your copy of his e-book for Kindle, Nook, or PDF:  Buy Here for $5!

Also available on Amazon for Kindle for $7.49.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  10 Thoughts For Earth Day (Where’s My Backpack) * Frog Wisdom ~ Earth Day (Candid Impressions)

Simple Abundance April 22, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Meditation, Mindfulness.
26 comments

Ego concerns like fear, anger, and guilt get in the way of  our happiness.  We hang on to things for days that we should brush off in minutes.

When life hands you lemons, remember to spit out the seeds!

300px-Paradiso_Canto_31

Recognize the richness of your existence:  

* Riches are not from an abundance of worldly goods, but from a contented mind. ~ Mohammed

* How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward. ~ Spanish Proverb

* What a wonderful life I’ve had!  I only wish I’d realized it sooner. ~ Colette

Aah . . . that’s better!

For a wonderful post on the power of breathing ~ Breathe Well and Be Well (Find Your Middle Ground)