Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Happy Earth Day!

Our incredible planet.

Let's keep it this way.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Choose Your Words Wisely

I'm not sure people realize how their words can adversely affect others, especially a child. The vulnerable little minds of chilren can be either negatively or positively impacted by what we say to them. Positive words can encourage and help children thrive into adulthood. Negative words can sit there for the rest of their lives, influencing and affecting how they see themselves and their world, and ultimately how their life plays out. Some children are strong enough to rise above the onslaught of negative talk, but others will just succumb to it.  Tell a child he's stupid and, more often than not, that's what he becomes. Tell a child he can succeed and, more likely than not, he will.

I grew up during a time when 'reverse pyschology' was de rigeur. It worked for me because I was a willful, stubborn child (and young adult) and I wanted to prove people wrong. I remember my mother used to tell me I would never graduate from college, my university counselor told me the same thing- so to prove them wrong, I graduated from college- with honors. But for some, those words might have  prompted them to just give up.

Build up children by encouraging them, telling them how clever and talented they are, how they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. Tell them how much they are loved and appreciated. You will be doing them a great service.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Science Versus Faith

The following anecdote has been making the rounds through email and on Facebook in many different forms, but the one consistent premise is the argument of Science versus Faith.  This one, and some others, inaccurately claim that the student was Einstein, but there is no record of any such conversation.

Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, you believe in GOD ?

Student : Absolutely, sir.

Professor : Is GOD good ?

Student : Sure.

Professor: Is GOD all powerful ?

Student : Yes.

Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

(Student was silent.)

Professor: You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Is satan good ?

Student : No.

Professor: Where does satan come from ?

Student : From … GOD …

Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?

Student : Yes.

Professor: So who created evil ?

(Student did not answer.)

Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, who created them ?

(Student had no answer.)

Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?

Student : No, sir.

Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?

Student : No , sir.

Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?

Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.

Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?

Student : Yes.

Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student : Nothing. I only have my faith.

Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.

Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Professor: Yes.

Student : And is there such a thing as cold?

Professor: Yes.

Student : No, sir. There isn’t.

(The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events.)

Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)

Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?

Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?

Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man ?

Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how?

Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?

Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.

Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)

Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

(The class was in uproar.)

Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?

(The class broke out into laughter. )

Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)

Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.

Student : That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man and GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.

With Faith, all things are possible.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Household Items That Trigger Allergies

Peace Lily For Bedroom

For those with allergies, you know how frustrating it can be to have sneezing fits, or to wake up to a super stuffy nose, or (in my case) to always have one. I don't think I ever fully realized I had major problems with allergies until I went to an ENT after a cold led to a bleeding, infected ear and my acupuncturist told me to get to one immediately.  Sure, my dad has always liked to bet on how many sneezes I have in me (it's usually way over 10 in a row), but it wasn't until the ENT visit, after a mega- dose of nose spray, that I realized what it's actually like to be able to breathe freely.

Until my clogged/infected ear cleared up I did have to try the western med route with a small dose of antibiotics, and some antihistamines (which didn't work), so I chose not to continue with the antihistamines and am in the process of looking into homeopathy to help with the sinus congestion. I will let you know if I find anything that works.

But what actually causes those allergies in the house?  I think I have always known that dust mites are probably the cause of the majority of my sneezing fits and waking up congested, but I was shocked to read on other household items that could be triggers for my allergies.

You dust, you vacuum, you keep the kitchen spic ‘n span, yet you’re constantly stuffed up and sniffly. Turns out even homes that are super-clean and tidy can hide some nasty allergy triggers, says Clifford Bassett, M.D., medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. “Many people suffer for years, not realizing that the source of their misery is right under their noses,” he says.

Plants In The Bedroom: This probably depressed me the most. I adore my plants- I have about 15 of them in my room, and I'm not sure I could part with them. Besides, they're great for feng shui, and they're supposed to help with indoor pollution.  However, most plants are also responsible for mold spores that can trigger allergies, and according to allergist Dr. Christopher Randolph, at Yale-New Haven Hospital, breathing those spores during the night can cause you to awaken with, among other things, a stuffed nosed, sore throat, dry cough- all of which I have had.  They recommend removing all your plants and just keeping peace lilies (I do have one).  Apparently, they get rid of the mold spores, but maybe my one solitary peace lily isn't enough to counteract the other 14 or so mold-spore producing plants.  I'll have to think about this one.

Washing Machines: Go figure, but I guess it makes sense.  Apparently, those mold spores also love our washing machines because of all that lovely dampness.

University of Arizona researchers say washing machines can also harbor millions of these allergy triggers, due to poor drainage and damp crevices, seals and gaskets. The result: Mold spores not only get embedded in clothing, but if the levels are high enough, you’ll inhale them every time you’re in the laundry room, says Dr. Randolph. To kill up to 100 percent of washing machine mold in one shot, pour 8 ounces of bleach into your empty washer and run it for a full cycle at the hottest temperature setting. To halt future growth of moisture-loving mold, leave the washing machine door and detergent dispenser cover open to help the machine dry out completely.

Smelly Candles: I can vouch for this. Every time I walk into one of those shops that sells scented candles I immediately start sneezing. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) it's the flames that can

emit chemicals that can nudge indoor pollutant levels up to levels considered illegal outdoors. Plus, the oils that give scented candles their distinctive smells can irritate and inflame the nasal cavities, triggering a runny nose and watery eyes even if you’re not normally allergy-prone, says James Wedner, M.D., chief of allergy and immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Instead, opt for other forms of mood lighting, such as low-watt frosted bulbs in lamps, then put out bowls of fresh potpourri to add a soothing scent.

Coat Closet: Dust mites love to snuggle up and nest in those winter coats that sit around for most of the year. And they adore wool. Wool has 10 times more of those nasty critters than cotton or other fabric.  One doctor recommends washing winter outerwear a few times during the winter months, and then keeping them in plastic for the rest of the year. I-Village also recommends placing your down-filled jackets in a  hot dryer for 20 minutes once a week in order to kill those mites and their eggs.

Doors and Windows:  I had no idea this could be a problem, but the EPA says that

 allergens quickly build up inside tightly-sealed homes, reaching levels more than triple what you inhale outdoors. To clear them out fast -- without making your heating costs skyrocket -- open a few windows for 15 minutes daily to let a fresh breeze blow through. Experts at Canada’s National Research Council say a daily blast of fresh air is so effective at whisking out airborne mold spores, dust mites and more, that it can cut winter allergy flare-ups in half. Also smart: Keep your home smoke-free. Inhaling secondhand smoke worsens allergies for four days after exposure, by stimulating production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines, say doctors at the University of California, Davis.

Alcohol: I don't drink so this isn't my problem, but who would have thought? I know one can be allergic to the sulfites in wine, for example, but according to research done at the University of Santiago in Spain, more than one alcoholic beverage per day can increase allergies. That means no more than 4 ounces of wine, 12 ounce beer or 1 1/2 ounces of hard liquor per day.  And I-Village recommends drinking the six 8-ounce glasses of water per day. However, you can drink other liquids, as long as they don't contain alcohol.

Bathmat:  Yes, because of dust mites and mold, your bath mat needs to be washed in hot water once a week and dried thoroughly. It's all about the humidity.

Your Teddy Bear: I figured the mites would love my stuffed animals as much as I do. Of course, the only way to get rid of them is by washing your stuffed teddy in hot water and then drying it in an equally hot dryer, but I doubt there would be much left of the toy, so allergist Neeti Gupta suggests putting them in your freezer overnight. According to the good doctor,

That's if you have enough room. If you have a menagerie, like I do, I suppose you could freeze several at a time. This one I might try.

Thankfully, these are surprisingly easy ways of cutting down on the allergy triggers in our homes, now we just have to figure out how to suck out all the pollen from the outdoors.
“Dust mites are surprisingly sensitive to cold and dry air, so that’s a great way to kill them off.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Keys To Happiness: Validation- Short Film About Making Others Happy

This 16 minute award winning short film will definitely make you smile. 

It truly takes so little to make someone else happy, and as a result- yourself.


Director/Writer/Composer: Kurt Kuenne, US (2007)

Starring TJ Thyne & Vicki Davis

Winner - Best Narrative Short, Cleveland Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Jury Award, Gen Art Chicago Film Festival, Winner - Audience Award, Hawaii Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Comedy, Breckenridge Festival of Film, Winner - Crystal Heart Award, Best Short Film & Audience Award, Heartland Film Festival, Winner - Christopher & Dana Reeve Audience Award, Williamstown Film Festival, Winner - Best Comedy, Dam Short Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Film, Sedona Int'l Film Festival.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Free, Easy and Fun Ways To Give To Charity

In these challenging economic times, it's not always possible to donate money to charity, as much as we'd like to.  And we don't always know if that money is going to end up in the hands that most need it, or merely line the pockets of those who run the charitable organizations. 
We do know that giving makes us feel better:

A team from the University of British Columbia said spending as little as $5 (£2.52) on others helped.

Staff who got bonuses and spent some of the extra money on others were happier than those who spent their bonuses on themselves, the research found.

A UK psychologist said such charitable giving improved how people saw themselves - and how others saw them.

And $5.00 isn't much for an improved sense of well-being.

If you do have the money to freely give but you want to make sure the charity is worthy of your hard-earned cash, check out Charity Navigator or Charity Watch.  Both websites have rating guides to help you determine which organization you feel most comfortable supporting.

But there are other ways of 'giving' which cost nothing more than your time.

1. Volunteering: There are a zillion different organizations looking for volunteers, all you have to do is narrow down who and how you want to help, whether it's children, military vets, animals, senior citizens, or the homeless.  Check out organizations like United Way, the Humane Society, the Salvation Army, the list is endless.

2. Donate Goods:  If you have old clothes, furniture, knickknacks, kitchen items or anything that you no longer want or need, drop those off at places like Goodwill, the Salvation Army or a slew of other charities.

One of the easiest ways of donating is just a click away:

1. is a fun way of donating grains of rice and helping to add to  your vocabulary at the same time.

2. also donates food to the needy with just a click.

3. by clicking you can provide a free mammogram to women who can't afford one. You can do this once a day.

4. has a variety of different causes (from violence against women to saving seals) you can click to help.  You can also do this once a day.

And here's a portal website that lists a bunch of different organizations that allow you to click to donate.

Another way is to use those sites that allow you to shop for what you need and at the same time donate for nothing.





The easiest and most hassle-free way to give to others is the 'click to give' sites, but give in any way you can. There is always someone needier than we are.

So go on, make yourself and someone in need happy.