Wednesday, January 31, 2007


The answer to all of the world's problems is sharing. I'm trying to teach my kids about sharing and I see parents all of the time trying to teach sharing to kids. It's not working. Sure, sometimes the Mugwump will share a toy with Sixpence when he's not interested in playing with it, but that's not going to save the world. Real sharing is going to save the world. By real sharing I mean making sacrifices of your personal wants and desires in order to serve the good of others or the community as a whole. Some of this sharing principle is forced upon us and we just need to recognize that we are sharing, no matter what and we need to be considerate of others.
I talked about water and air previously. Of course we will always have to have water and air, everyone will. That means that we are going to have to share. Is it really sharing when the people in Africa don't have clean drinking water and I use my clean drinking water to flush the toilet? Is it really sharing when industry pollutes a river to the point that I can no longer swim in it (not to mention drinking it)? Is it sharing to put bike paths on side streets with stop signs every block while cars get thoroughfares that never have to stop? Is it sharing when inversion is so bad in Utah County that I am not supposed to ride my bike because it is now a health hazard?
If the world is to truly prosper we are going to have to share. This may mean having one car per neighborhood. This may mean sharing rides, even if it makes it a little less convenient for yourself. We live in a very selfish, self absorbed society. If we get out and make some sacrifices and share with those around us we can make huge differences in the world. Did you know that the number one predictor of a low crime neighborhood is knowing your neighbor's name? What is your neighbor's name?
In addition to solving many environmental problems, sharing will bring communities together and increase social capital that is essential to a prosperous society.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Have you ever heard the saying, "the most important things in life are free"? I think that thought is more important than we think. Lets take an environmental perspective.

First lets define the most important things in life. We can only live a few minutes without air and a few days without water. Food we can do a bit better and maybe make it a week or more. We need shelter and clothing, love and friends, but that's not the direction I want to go.

Industry also has demands. In order to make a product, you have to start with a material. Plastics, metals, cloth, etc, industry pays money for these raw materials so they can make them into products that we will buy. I don't care how simple you try to live, you will inevitably buy something made of a material that has value. We call these sources of value natural resources.

The point I'm getting at is that water and air are among the most abundant resources that we have and because of that they have little monetary value. Because they have little monetary value industry pollutes them since it won't affect their bottom line. Air and water are unique in the fact that we have to share these resources. There may not be a monetary value, but air and water are of infinite value because without them our lives will cease. The most important things in life are free... maybe we need to change that so that people will recognize the value of what they are destroying.

Likewise with the STUFF that we have, the most important and valuable stuff is intangible: my wife, love, freedom, etc.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


The Mugwump chose a book from the library... it was a cookbook. It was the book that he was the most excited about. This was the sloppy-joe that we made look like cars. They were pretty good. There is also a recipe for a sandwich that looks like a baseball. It takes over 2 cups of mayonnaise to cover the entire sandwich. We won't be trying that one. I don't know why The Mugwump's face looks all deformed, but the computer wouldn't download the photo of him looking halfway normal.

The Mugwump is becoming quite the builder. He built this train all by himself and it was too big to fit into one picture.

This is a castle that the Mugwump built out of Six-pence's blocks. I think this was preparatory to the snow castle in our front yard that didn't make the photo list.

With the way this kid eats and practices his mean face, I think he's going to be a linebacker for the Seahawks. Even if he never intimidates anyone.

That would be me. You will notice that all of the pictures have been indoors. That is because we haven't seen temperatures above freezing in weeks. That is what I wear to ride into school. It's interesting how 19 degrees begins to feel warm after a week or two of riding into work while it's between -2 and 5.

The cold season has hit everyone in the family except me so far. It's not too bad, just stuffy noses and a little coughing. With the cold weather and the colds, we've been doing a lot of reading and playing indoors. No pictures of Icky this week... She's back at home. I wonder what she has been up to while away. Maybe she would like to defend herself before I let loose.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Step Backward is Progress

That may sound like I stole it from minuscar, but really it was a quote from an article in the LA times, take a look. While you're looking around you can visit the website the article refers to.

So there it is, my dream in life, to progress to the point of living off the land, completely independent. So what would our country or city be like if we all lived like that? Well, we wouldn't need big trucks or trains transporting goods. Big businesses that people complain about would suffer because community members would be supplying many of their own goods. Of course not everyone would be able to live completely off the land, but imagine eliminating over half of your food budget, most of your electric and water bill and saving considerable on fuel for your car. What would you do with all that extra money? Most people would buy stuff, which is the problem. I think a better choice would be to cut my job back to half time so that the truck drivers and train engineers could find a job. Then I would have enough money to live, and more time to spend with my family. Boy, that sounds like the good life. Interesting, if someone were to ask what I did for a living and I told them I worked part time at a grocery store they would likely consider me "unsuccessful". I think that the independence and time to spend with my family would be the ultimate success.


Did you know that 97% of all people will believe a fact if it supported by a statistic, whether the fact is true or not?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Potty Training

The Mugwump is "Potty Trained", but we still need some work on the social issues involved. Our big challenge at this point is hand washing. Of course you should wash your hands when you're done, but how do you convince a 3 year old of that. Well, you notice that when he pees he will often drip a little on his hands. Of course when you drip on your hands you have to wash them. This worked well until he stopped dripping. Now he finishes and says, "look, no drips" which means, "look I'm done and I'm not going to wash my hands because there was not a perceivable amount of urine that landed on my hands".

Of course it is the perception thing, you should still wash your hands. Icky had an amazing attempt at solving our problem (or creating another problem, I'm not sure which). She rationed with him that if he touches his penis he needs to wash his hands. Now he goes into the bathroom, pulls down his pants, holds his shirt up to mid chest height and sticks his belly out so his penis rests on the rim of the toilet while he goes. When he's finished he puts his shirt down, pulls his pants up and proudly proclaims, "I didn't touch my penis and no drips" which really means, "why in the world would I wash my hands, I have mastered this practice and can now urinate with my hands near my armpits, certainly the urine doesn't splash that far". Frankly, he's right, however we really need to do something about his aim. This 'no hands' act is leading to other problems.

So here are the issues that I need help solving:
1) I need the Mugwump to hit the toilet at least 98% of the time while he's going
2) I need the Mugwump to wash his hands when he is done.

So in 3 year old logic, how do I convince him?

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Children's museum

Thanks to G'ma we were able to go to the Children's museum on Saturday. It was interesting. Six pence really didn't have any inhibitions. He walked around and got into whatever was around. He loved it as long as Dad didn't try to hold his hand, he is far too independent for that (he's 1). The Mugwump (almost 4), on the other hand, had his face hidden against my wife's leg for the first 10 minutes we were there. With an extreme amount of coaxing we were able to get him out from behind the leg and he would play by himself. He never really interacted with anyone, but he played around them... which is a step in the right direction. There was a point where the Mugwump went into the little kid's kitchen and was pretending to make cookies (with fake balogna, cheese and a box of saltine crackers). He would talk to the kids around him, but they never responded. When he was done making the cookies, he took them and tried to give his pretend cookies to people. Again he was totally ignored. He tries so hard to play with others, but he doesn't fight to be heard or to get his way.

So here's the thing. We are considering homeschooling him, but aren't sure. We have this fear of sending him to school and losing our precious boy that is so giving and having him replaced by a greedy monster that is so typical among kids (and adults). I also recognize that kids need to have trials to develop and maybe school of hard knocks (public school) would provide him with experiences that will prevent people from walking all over him the rest of his life.

My wife and I both graduated from the public school system and we turned out OK, so I don't think that public school is bad. I do, however, feel that it is bad to throw your kid into public school without evaluating what is going to be best for the kid. I think some kids thrive with the homeschool environment and others really need to have a public school education so they don't end up weird.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The family

Before I get started, I figured out how to get the You Tube clip into the blog, but i couldn't figure out how to add text to the entry. SO go and watch the clip about free hugs, it's really a neat little film that you should enjoy.
The family is well. We haven't been above freezing in almost two weeks now and looking at the weather forecast online, it doesn't look like this is going to be our week either. My wife and the boys are feeling a little couped up. It's hard to get out when the high for the day is 12. We've made some more trips in the car than usual, but that is why we still have one car, so that my wife isn't trapped at home.
Now that I think of it, one of my big goals for 2007 is to put more miles on my bike than are put on the family car. Just so I remember, the odometer was at 147,090 to begin the new year. It may be a difficult goals seeing that my wife is going to drive to Washington this summer (I think) and I'm taking my wife to Havasu Canyon to go hiking in April. I'm excited for the challenge.
My wife and I exchanged gifts on our anniversary. I got her a couple of library books that we will return when she's done. They were books about Havasu canyon so that she could learn a little about our upcoming trip (or just look at the pictures). My wife got me an avocado. I have never had the opportunity to cut an avocado in half and just eat it with a spoon. I had always wanted to be able to do that, but it always seems like a waste when my family is all hungry and everyone likes avocado so I had never before just eaten an avocado. My wife gave me a whole avocado that I didn't have to share. It was wonderful, I sat at my cubicle at school, listening to some good music and enjoyed my avocado. I hope to do it again some day.
This is really a lame post. There really isn't much new with the boys and I just go to school. My wife's amazing, but anyone who knows her knows that is typical for her.
If you were coming to this sight to see something useful or interesting, go to the video about the free hugs because this post wasn't.

Friday, January 19, 2007

free hug

5 Years!

This is a blog. I'm a passionate person and I write about those things that are important to me. I write about bikes, the environment, simple living and my family. Today's post is about the thing most important to me of all, my wife and our marriage.
Today is our 5 year anniversary.... I can't believe that she put up with me for that long. When I was younger (I was going to say when I was in school, but I'm still in school) I didn't understand marriage. I had Jr. High crushes like the next guy and I would think, "I could marry her, she's cute, funny and I like being around her." Then it would fade and I would move onto the next crush that I never built the courage to talk to. I really don't miss Jr high or high school. That was the pattern for most of my younger years, but eventually I would actually talk to the girls and occasionally make a complete fool of myself by asking them out as my voice cracked and I stumbled over every word.
I don't know how well my family knows this, but when I first asked my wife (before she was my wife) on a date she refused me. In fact she refused me a lot... for months. You see, what I learned in college was that in order to make my voice not crack and to avoid looking like a fool i had to make the date invitation sort of informal. So I would go over to my wife's apartment and ask, "Hey, I was going to go to Tuba-fest, do you want to come?" And she would respond, " no, not tonight." That was that and we would move on.
I started hanging out at her apartment a lot and she still didn't really acknowledge my interest, but i really liked talking to her (and asking her out and getting rejected). One day I worked up tons of courage and left a rose on her bike that she would find on her way to school. She thought it was from someone else... Or maybe she hoped it was from someone else. Anyway, I eventually convinced her that I was interested and she sort of gave me the time of day... begrudgingly.
We really fell in love on long road trips when we had hours of driving and talking. My wife is brilliant, and has the potential to do anything that she wants. She's extremely talented and well organized and is really good at getting stuff done. She would be quite successful in the business world. She wants to use all of her talent to raise children and bring them up to be contributing members of society. She is also active in the community in as much as she can be while still devoting the requisite time and energy to raising our boys. And when I say raising our boys, it is more than babysitting. In her free time she reads about parenting techniques and schooling so that in 2 years the Mugwump will have the best opportunities possible. I don't think there is anything that my wife can't do. She even puts up with me!
I've read on several websites about couples who don't see eye to eye on environmental or simple living issues and they spend their lives trying to convince one another. My wife and I have similar views on almost everything. That's not to say that we never have different opinions, but in five years we have never really had an argument. It's also not because we hold it in. We talk about it and it always just works out.
After five years of marriage, I feel bad for every other guy in the world who had to settle for someone inferior to my wife... I feel for them, i don't know what I would have done if I had had to settle for another woman. I get along with my wife better than I have ever gotten along with anyone in my life and I often think that she is the only person to every really understand me and who I am. There is nothing as important in my life as my wife, my marriage and my kids. Even if I rant about the environment sometimes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Heat wave

3 degrees when I left the house this morning. That is 3 degrees warmer that it was yesterday. Overall it's not bad, I just need a way to keep the hands a little warmer. Oh and they should get the snow and ice off the road I usually use so that i don't have to go through Springville which is the worst cycling city that I have ever been in... and I've biked through a lot of cities.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why I ride...

I have a class this semester on health risks. One of the biggest risks is high cholesterol. We have an assignment to get our cholesterol checked and then create a diet/exercise program to improve the cholesterol levels. Then we will have our cholesterol levels checked at the end to see if our program worked. I don't think we're graded on improving our cholesterol, just the program that we write for it. I got my cholesterol back yesterday...98. That's the total. It breaks down to an LDL of 43, HDL of 48 and VLDL of 7. My triglycerides were at 33. I eat very little meat or sugar and I exercise regularly. I think I'm going to cut the pretzels out of my diet for the semester, that will be good. Otherwise I'm just going to continue with my current diet and see what happens.
Last night I went on an activity with the youth at church. We showed up and it was obviously a youth group and one of the ladies asked me if I was one of the youth or a leader. Actually, I'm the oldest leader in the group.
Honestly, I don't ride my bike for health reasons. My commute is merely transportation and a time to relax and enjoy nature (when I'm not being run off the road by a car). The commute has so many benefits that are little extras.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The family

The weekend post on the family... We're all doing well. The Mugwump is potty trained and is extremely disappointed with himself when he has accidents, which are rare at this point. Every night he asks to go to bed without a diaper and we tell him that as soon as he wakes up with a dry diaper he can go to bed without. So far he still wears the diaper, but he's excited and that's wonderful. He got a taste of what aunts are really about this weekend when Icky painted his fingernails. And toenails. Pink. He was very proud of it and was excited to show people at church. "All the classes will be so impressed!"

Sixpence got some shots that he wasn't excited about. Otherwise he likes art. We have a set of art drawers and he will go get the paints or crayons out of the drawer and say "da da" which means this is what I want to do. He's a pretty good artist... for one year old.

My wife is excited about drawing our new house. We dream of building a strawbale house that is environmentally friendly and maybe even off the grid. Anyway, my wife spends time drawing plans for a small house that would meet our needs. They're really pretty good, except I am feeling a little pressure.

The weather has been cold (I think the high today was 14). We had icicles forming on the inside of some windows, so we decided to hang some flannel sheets to hopefully keep some of the warmth in. The low inside of our house so far this year was 46 but we've been consistently in the 50s through the cold spell, we're doing quite well.

I'm doing fine, and looking forward to the semester. I'm taking a couple classes that I'm really excited about, but I'm taking a lot of classes and am sure that I will be busy. It's only the first week and I'm already REALLY busy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A helmet-bouncin' good time...

We got snow yesterday. I've ridden home in snow before, so I hopped on the bike and left for home. I just got out of the school parking lot, and I was going along just fine, thinking it was going to be a breeze when suddenly the I noticed that the asphalt was rather close to my noggin. Now, I've crashed a bike before and it always tends to seem like slow motion... I can always remember thinking, "uh oh, this is going to hurt", and then you pick yourself up off the ground. Last night, it was like it never happened. I was riding and then suddenly I was on the ground. A very kind pedestrian asked if I was OK (she seemed a little worried), but I hopped up and said I was fine. I got back on the bike and tried to get going again, but I couldn't on the fixed gear. You see, to get started on a fixed gear, you have to get some momentum before the bottom of the pedal stroke or you will come to a stop before you can get your other foot on the pedal. Standing over my bike I would push down on the pedal and all it would do was spin on the ice. I couldn't get going again. I eventually rode a little on the sidewalk and made it up to the bus stop where I caught the bus.

As the bus pulled away a couple of people noticed that it was not the bus they expected, it was going to stop about 15 miles short of their destination (the bus was 30 minutes late and forgot to change the sign until we were going). So I went home, and brought a couple of people with me (bus people). I changed my shoes and drove them to Payson. They were pretty nice people. I will still have to say that you never know who you will meet on the bus.

Today I'm a little sore, but otherwise there was no harm done in the little bike accident. I'm on the bus today because the roads are still ice and it's still snowing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Don't let the title fool you, this post may be interesting.

I study homeostasis alot as it pertains to the human body. Our bodies run at a certain pH, with certain amounts of stuff in the blood at all times. We can tell alot about a person by what is in their blood, or more accurately, what is in the blood in unusually high or low amounts. Your body goes through considerable efforts to maintain concentrations at certain levels, and if we find that you aren't within those normal ranges, somthing is wrong. Glucose (sugar), for example is well maintained by the body in a fairly tight range. Every time we eat, we add a bunch of glucose to the system and the body is able to take care of it within a couple of hours. However, if we abuse the system and keep giving the body more than it can handle, it has to take drastic measures to maintain blood glucose in "healthy" levels. If the cells have too much fuel, but we keep pumping more fuel into the system, the cells say that they've had enough by resisting the action of insulin. So now the sugar in the blood can't get into cells as easily creating higher blood sugar levels. This is called insulin resistance and is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Diabetes (from now on when I talk about diabetes, I'm talking about type 2; type 1 is a different ballgame) is a disease caused by over-consumption. It takes considerable overconsumption for an extended period of time before the body is no longer able to maintain blood glucose homeostasis, and a person is diagnosed with diabetes. (Diabetes is reversable with diet and exercise, but it takes a lot of work).

Last night in my readings, I learned that the earth also has mechanisms to maintain homeostasis (this is not my area of expertise, but I'm going to try and tackle it). I read that the earth's exposure to the sun has increased by 30% since the world began... Well that explains gloabal warming. Except it doesn't. As sun exposure on the earth has been increasing, plants have been better able to undergo photosynthesis (the process of using carbon dioxide for energy with oxygen as a byproduct) thereby decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide acting as a greenhouse gas to keep the planet warm. How cool is that? As the temperature rises, plants thrive and decrease the greenhouse effect and as temperatures cool, plants are less able to use carbon dioxide, increasing the greenhouse effect to help maintain the homeostasis of the temperature on earth. That was working really well for a long time, until we decided to start pumping extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through industry and automobiles. Oh, and at the same time we decided to cut down forests because we need to make wood products like paper, houses, furniture, etc. Oh and some of the forests got in the way of farmland, so we cut them down too. We have increased CO2 through industry, but decreased the earth's ability to get rid of CO2 by cutting down forests.

Now I'm not going to jump into any research about global warming, because I'm not familiar with it. It looks to me that wether global warming has started or not, the earth is becoming "insulin resistant", except with CO2 instead of glucose. If we continue to abuse the earth, it will eventually be unable to maintain homeostasis and that won't be good.

In the Bible, a rich man asked Jesus what he needed to do to obtain eternal life, and Jesus responded that he needed to leave all that he had and follow Jesus (or something to that effect). Wow, evidently God wasn't kidding when he gave us that scripture. Are the consequences of not giving up comfort to follow Jesus certain death? Spiritually, maybe. Physically, it's sort of looking that way. As obesity and diabetes reach epidemic levels, it appears as if more and more people are killing themselves with excess. As a society we are producing more and more CO2 and decreasing the earth's ability to convert CO2 back to oxygen which, if continued indefinitely, will lead to the end of the world. I'm not trying to say the world will end anytime soon, I have great confidence in the human body's and the earth's ability to take abuse for a long time, as well as a conviction that Jesus will return and make things better. I just find it interesting that God created the earth such that if we are not charitable, if we continue to be greedy seek for "more", and if we continue to overconsume, it will lead to the death of individuals, and eventually the death of the earth.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Family "Bonding"

After a couple of voting blogs, and missed pictures I thought today would be a little lighter. (But first a little more momentum for voting) Don't vote for styrofoam peanutes, they just fill landfills and ruin the environment in their production. Instead get the corn starch peanuts.

We recently got a package full of these peanuts and my wife discovered that if you lick them, they stick together quite nicely and can be used as a construction material. (Dear, what were you doing licking the packaging?)

Anyway, my wife started family night by building a cabin from corn-starch peanuts.

The Mugwump was quick toget into the action and he built a car. Someday I will remmeber to stand my pictures upright before I put them onto the blog. This is actually the fourth time of me posting this blog because our home computer is dying. It randomly shuts itself off. On two occasions I was just about to push the "publish" button and the computer died. So now I'm at school and this blog is several days later than I had hoped.

The car wasn't good enough for the Mugwump, he insisted on improvement and he ended up with a "packed firetruck". I don't know what it means to have a packed firetruck, but that's what he said it was, and I certainly was in no possition to argue with him because I couldn't tell what it was. Oh, and the Mugwump is potty trained! Most of the time he just strolls right into the bathroom, takes care of businness and we never know... except there's no mess. Well, no mess, except he's really NO GOOD at wiping. How do you teach a kid that? At this point we ask if he pooped and if he says yes he knows to turn around and drop his pants for the poop check. (He hasn't passed one yet). Sometimes I wish he were just a little less independent.

Sixpence was really excited about this game, except he was a little too good at the licking part, he just kept licking until the thing was gone. OK, that was an exageration, he didn't lick at all. He stuck each of them in his mouth and ate them. He would occassionally finish the first before starting on the next one. There was no stopping this kid, he is a corn-starch peanut junky. They're just corn starch, right?
Otherwise, Sixpence is learning to talk he's mastered "Da" and can say "mamamamama" Although verbally he is quite simple, he is very good at getting his point accross.

Not a great picture, but this is the Mugwump trying to sabbatage my bicycle. This is quite possibly the coolest thing I have ever built. I never liked art class because my things never quite turned out how I had imagined them. I think this is partly due to a lack of tallent, but now I'm realizing that they hadn't supplied me with the right materials. I could have built anything with corn-starch peanuts. I've been thinking about submitting my bike to a museum, but I'm afraid to take it outside or it might get wet and dissolve.

... It's beyond words.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Voting in life

I recognize that my last post was a little long, but I have more to say. Not only do we vote with everything that we buy, we vote in every action that we make. From a religious perspective, we are accountable for our actions. That doesn't mean that we "earn" our way to heaven, but if we know that something is wrong and we do it anyway it is a sin. The scriptures councel us not to sin.

So every time you go to Walmart and buy a cheap toy built by child labor in China, you are voting for child labor, inequality between social classes and filling landfills (those toys never last). You are accountable for the decisions that you make and although I don't think you are condemned to eternity in hell for shopping at Walmart, you are accountable and that will need to be taken care of... and I have no idea how that will transpire.

Every time that you drive your car to the end of the driveway (or to a nearby store) you are being lazy and polluting the earth that God gave us. Certainly we will be accountable for those decisions.

Every time you unnecissarily raise your voice at your children, or anyone else for that matter, you will be accountable. We are responsible for the decisions we make and we can make a difference by "voting" according to the laws set forth in the scriptures.

I also want to point out that choices aren't always that easy. I try to look like a big shot that makes all the right decisions, but sometimes we must choose between the best of several evils. I don't buy organic or locally as often as I would like. I'm a college student and really can't afford to. I'm ashamed of that (I'm ashamed of not buying organic, I'm not ashamed of being a student or being poor) and hope to change that in the future (by starting to buy locally). Anyway, situations often make choices more difficult. That is no excuse to not make good decisions, but sometimes bad decisions are the only decisions that we can afford or that our situation allows. They are still bad decisions and should be recognized as such. We're not perfect and that is why we have a Savior.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


I know that the November elections are long gone, but really I don't think that is where the power lies. Lobbyists have far more power than we do as voters (because the lobbyists have money). So if we want to see changes the votes that we cast at the polls is of little significance compared to the vote that we cast at the cash register.

So I'm not a fan of the system and I express that at the polls, but it really doesn't do much good. I'm not big on the idea of sitting around and doing nothing, and I feel that we have a far more powerful vote to cast that doesn't pass through the bureaucracy of our government. Almost every time we provide money for a good or service, we are supporting a powerful lobbying group in Washington. Even if the product we are buying and the store we are patronizing are not associated with lobbying groups, they listen to the consumer based on what we buy.

Really, at heart I'm a capitalist. I believe that businesses will fail, survive or excel based on the products they provide the consumer. With that said, it is important for the consumer to take a stand against those products that they feel shouldn't exist. I want to point out a few examples and how they impact us in various ways.

First of all is wrapping paper. I know it's tradition, it's festive, it's the way we use to surprise people. What I hate is that it is not recyclable and completely wasteful. Demanding wrapping paper be made of a material that can be recycled would be a step in the right direction. Even better would be to use old newspapers instead. Then we use the product and reuse it to hide a gift and it still has the potential to be recycled. Why would companies continue to produce wrapping paper that is used for a short period of time and then does nothing more than contribute to landfills? Because you buy them! You vote to fill the landfills every time you wrap a gift in that stuff. It's a powerful vote. We no longer have wrapping paper in our home and we use alternative means of wrapping gifts. I asked family not to use traditional wrapping paper on the gifts for our family, but every gift that we received from outside of our home was wrapped in non-recyclable gift paper. I find that frustrating.

Second we'll hit on milk. Although I don't think milk is good for human consumption, I don't think it's the worst food available either. I offer this example to demonstrate a point, not to persuade you to stop drinking milk. Every time you purchase milk or dairy products you are contributing the the National Dairy Council which has a powerful lobbying group in Washington. What do they lobby? Among other things, they make sure that milk is given to all WIC participants and is a "handout" (although I'm sure the grocer and dairy still get their money from the product being given away) to those in need. Milk is also influential in schools and this is one of my biggest complaints about the dairy industry. Schools are a place for education, not marketing. There have been big arguments recently about advertising in the halls of schools which is really all about making money for business and NOT about benefiting our children and the future generation. Milk doesn't advertise in halls (well, maybe they do, I don't know that for sure), but I do know that the dairy industry provides curriculum for health teachers to ease the burden of having to come up with a lesson plan. Long before advertising in hallways became an issue, milk was advertising in the classroom, spreading the propaganda and encouraging milk consumption. It's really a great marketing idea, but I don't send my kids to school to be marketed to, I send them to learn how to think for themselves. In addition to health reasons, I don't buy milk because I am unwilling to support their unethical marketing practices. Every time that you buy milk you are voting for marketing in schools.

McDonald's recently spent lots of money on a survey of their customers to find what they wanted. The survey concluded that customers wanted more healthy choices in salads, yogurt, etc. McDonald's responded by introducing product lines that reflected the desires of the customer. It turns out that people don't buy the healthy choices at McDonald's, so the line was discontinued or at least down-graded (I don't really know, I haven't been to McDonald's in at least 5 years). Kudos to McDonald's for trying, but what you pay money for speaks far louder than your vote on a survey.

My final rant will be about WalMart. Recently, I have found many good things that WalMart is doing. They have decided to reduce the packaging on products that they are carrying. They carry organic (although not locally grown) produce, and they employ elderly and handicapped persons that would likely not be able to find employment elsewhere. Those are wonderful things that I would like to support, but I won't through WalMart. The reason is that this Mega-store is too powerful. They demand low prices from their manufacturers. If the manufacturer is unable to meet that price Walmart goes elsewhere. I'm a capitalist, that should be OK with me, but not when it forces manufacturers (and even Chinese manufacturers) to pay their employees less and essentially abuse the human resources of a company in order to get Walmart to buy their products. Walmart even does this to their own "associates" who do not make a livable wage. It's unfortunate, I choose to vote against Walmart every time I spend money, yet I still have to pay taxes that support Walmart employees who are unable to meet their financial responsibilities because they are not being appropriately compensated by the big business.

As I think of who will read this blog (if anyone makes it this far, it ended up a little longer than originally anticipated) I think of how global this is. For example, Vertigo is a Canadian (I think) living in Japan, yet he has a powerful vote in the US. Every time he goes to the store he chooses to buy US made goods, or others. If he votes for the companies he gives his money to, regardless of what country that may be in. So who do you think the Russians vote for? the Chinese? Who do you vote for?