Monday, April 30, 2007

To tax myself or not to tax myself...

...that is the question in my mind leading up to the May 8th election. I'm still Undecided and not leaning in either direction.

In today's ABJ, an article about the proposed tax has racked up an impressive 64 comments by this evening, almost all of them opposed to the tax. Unfortunately, most of the arguments are not compelling. These folks are anti-tax on principle rather than speaking to the specifics of the proposition. There are the usual anti-union rabble who blame the need for a tax increase on union salaries and benefits. If only they'd just get over the jealousy and join the IWW.

From the Issue 17 web site, here is a look at how the tax will be used:

How Proceeds from Issue 17 will be used each year:
Additional Police Officers 2.5 million
Neighborhood Improvements 3.6 million
_ Streets, Parks, Housing
Additional After School Programs 1.0 million
Flood Control 1.0 million
Replacement of Equipment 1.0 million
(Safety forces & Service)
Job Retention and Creation 9.0 million
Land Banking
Infrastructure required for job development
Neighborhood Business Districts
The Job Retention and Creation category is the problem. That's 9 million dollars for something that is very non-specific. I'm not sure I feel like giving up $33 per 10,000 of my salary for an ambiguous goal.

What is really missing here is any indication that human kind is facing a future that will be markedly different due to climate change. If only any of the above needs were tied to greener ways of living in our community, I’d be rooting for it whole-heartedly. But I suspect that any building of new structures will be done in the same old ways without any concern for lessening the environmental impact upon the land, air and waterways.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday Night Sort Thru

What a glorious day today here in NE Ohio! The sky was a perfect blue, while the sun brightened everybody's mood. I was out in the garden early, attacking the weeds before they could wrap themselves around and choke various perennials. Last week's rain and today's warm rays made the soil perfect for weed pulling.

All over the city, folks were out in their yards and gardens: mowing, playing, listening to the Indians win another game. The weather finally feels like baseball.

Didn't put much time in online today. Sometimes, one needs to take a break from the rush of current events and continuing Bush regime scandals. I did happen across a blog I had not seen before. It is an official Akron Public Schools blog, with topics posted for discussion. What an excellent idea!

Reading through the Dress Code and Uniform comments, I was dismayed to see so many who want to impose uniformity and conformity on both students and teachers. It still freaks me out that adults get so bent out of shape by various forms of teenage dress. Come on, people! Kids will wear clothes to annoy adults. It is inevitable. The more you try to control their appearance, the more they will rebel. Remember long hair and bell bottoms?

I fought the dress code for years at my school. In those days, girls were kept in their proper places by the rule of skirts for all. No pants, no way. Sit properly with skirts at appropriate length. Keep those knees together, girls. Boys couldn't wear jeans because -- the rivets on the back of their Levi's might scratch the chairs! Nowadays, the fuss is over revealed midriffs and droopy pants. Don't we have more serious problems to deal with other than clothing?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Living green sound barriers

As the highway work goes ever onward here and across our state, we find ourselves subjected to more and more expanses of concrete sound barriers lining the freeways. These ugly walls are expensive, block views, and can interfere with proper drainage unless carefully designed. They also require a lot of expensive upkeep.

Google "sound barrier" and you'll find dozens of companies marketing these expensive gargantuan walls. Go to this site, and you'll find a much more practical and definitely greener solution: The Living Wall. Instead of concrete: earth, wood and live willows form a sound barrier that is ecologically sound and sustainable as well. This Canadian company will build walls to anybody's specifications, but also include a downloadable instruction booklet in case you want to build your own living wall around your property.

Now, if only we could drive ecologically sound vehicles that run on non-emitting fuel sources that are just as sustainable and good for us as the willow walls.

Image above is one of many from the Living Wall web site.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Personal stuff

When I began this blog last summer, I wanted it to be a place where I could think about things "out loud" and I especially wanted to think about things other than my day job. I'm a teacher, and at night I want to play with the adults. Like working in the garden, blogging has become both a release and a discipline.

As much as one may try to keep separate spheres going, there's bound to be overlap. I found it impossible to maintain a secret identity, for example. Everybody wants their friends to read their blogs, and friends tell friends and so it grows. Here's a blog item about what I do, for those who might be curious, courtesy of Kerry Clawson. Thanks for the write-up! Kerry was the theatre critic at the Akron Beacon Journal until the hideous down-sizing that began last year. Some of my early blogging was focused on the loss of the full time theatre beat. Kerry was assigned to the role of The Mad Shopper. That title is enough to make any self-respecting enviro-feminist gag!

Anyway, Kerry persevered in her love for theatre writing, and began her own blog which lead to her contributing additional reviews for the Beacon. Kerry tells me she has moved on from the Shopping beat to editing with theatre reviews on the side.

Another sort of overlapping of real life and blogosphere tonight as I had the good fortunate to meet Pho and his family at a school event. I must admit, it is difficult to adjust to the real face superseding that incredible portrait posted on his blog! Sorry there wasn't time for much more than how-do-you-do, but I have a feeling we'll be meeting up at more of these things over time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mike Gravel for President

Gotta make me a new bumper sticker! Finally a straight out left wing idealist candidate! Mike Gravel rocked the debate tonight. I checked out his entry in Wikipedia and was pleased to see some of the great actions he took during the Vietnam War, including putting the Pentagon Papers into the public record and ending the draft. I am especially interested in the work he's done on the concept of direct democracy.

I reached the main page of his web site but cannot click on to either his "contribute" button or his "get involved" button as they are receiving too many connection attempts! Looks like I'm not the only one who found his stance worthy of support. Good going in the debate, Mike! When I can snag a banner from your site, I'll post it here. Until then, here's Youtube:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Grandmother's Video to leave downtown Akron

Dave Blewette of Grandmother's Video is packing up his antique televisions and his museum of television memorabilia. His video production services will continue, we are pleased to find out. But the storefront next to the Main library will no longer house him or his amazing collection.

I've known Dave for many years and have spent many late nights in his place hanging out with a lot of interesting folks who found their way there. Grandmother's video was the unofficial after hours gathering place for major events as well as underground happenings downtown. Dave and his camera have recorded hours and hours of local culture. He has an amazing collection of local bands and performance artists appearing at clubs long closed but well remembered. From the Ohio Ballet to Akron First Night to late nights at the Bauhaus, Dave has captured the artistic impulses that have flourished in this city over the last three decades.

The good news is that the Akron Public Library will be receiving a rich trove of his video work for its local archives. Looking for rare footage of Third Plane at the Bauhaus? You will undoubtedly find it in Dave's collection, along with Sockeye, and Theatre of Sorts and much much more.

Dave displayed his collection for the public last year in a non-profit format he called The TV Dinner Club. Some of his NE Ohio television items can be seen at Lock III. Think Captain Penny, Ghoulardi, Dorothy Fuldheim, Woodrow the Woodsman and Barnaby. Dave continues to look for appropriate venues to display and house his amazing

You can still tour Grandmother's studio online here. Dave's creative video work includes the ground-breaking series It Came From Akron, experimental television that appeared on early local Akron cable television.

Dave is clearing the last out of his studio this weekend and is having a huge rummage sale. Contact info is here. There's no telling what interesting things might be up for sale.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More on The Save the Highland Theatre campaign

Here's an email just received on the latest status of The Highland Theatre:

Hello All,

It's been awhile since I've reported the status of the theater. Tim Kelley, Anthony Sterns and myself just returned from a two day seminar, in Play House Square. The League of Historic American Theatres presented the seminar Restoration to Operation: Leading a Historic Theatre’s Successful Transition We learned so much and are excited to share with you how and why this project will be successful. But, first let me get you up to speed.

We have accomplished a great deal. We have applied for our 501(c) (3) non-profit status, and have obtained our Employer Identification Number. We are in the process of finalizing a board of trustees and the bylaws for the corporation, and have been consulting with Lauren Pinney Burge, AIA (Historic Preservation Specialist, Architect), a principal of Chambers, Murphy & Burge Restoration Architects, Ltd. and Colleen Poehlman from the League of Historic American Theatres.

We have throughly researched the issues that have hindered urban neighborhood theaters’ commercial success. Urban flight has left city neighborhoods with a population possessing a lower disposable income, rising crime rates, and a lack of parking, while the “megaplexes” in the suburbs have kept patrons from coming to the classic movie theaters. However, the film distribution system has been the leading cause of the urban neighborhood theaters’ failure to compete. This scenario has led to the destruction of thousands of historic landmarks across the country. However, our research has found older theaters that have turned this trend around. We have contacted the owners and proprietors of these theaters to learn how they have been able to remain open and profitable. The answer is that nearly all of these theaters operate under a “community center” business model using their theaters for a wide variety of events and programming. This model has also enabled the theaters’ restoration, as it makes them eligible for funding from a variety of sources, and after restoration the theaters have attracted significantly more patrons. This “community center” business model has proven to be the savior of many historic theaters.

We have adopted this business model for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are eligibility for restoration funding and the security of a proven track record, and we feel confident that it holds the key to the future of the Highland Theater’s success. In addition, we have working with a national provider of digital cinema systems (the digital systems cost less than traditional film distribution), as well as a company that specializes in alternative energy systems which are so efficient the heating and cooling costs would be minimal. In the short term, we have a parking agreement with Oriana house and are currently working with the other businesses in Highland Square to produce a parking map. In the long term, we are investigating grants and low/no interest loans to help pay for a parking structure underneath the Portage Path School playground. The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission also has programs available for parking.

Most recently, we have been finishing the business plan, the next step is to find a tax attorney and an accountant to help finalize the proposal. We feel certain that the Highland Theater can be both profitable in financial terms as well as socially and culturally invaluable in what it can offer to the men, women, and children of the community.

I know this is short notice, we've been so busy we haven't been able to catch up until now. We're planning a fund raiser and need your help. The Highland Square Theater Corporation would be honored if you were to be our guest at the Highland Square Reunion, An evening of sharing stories of our past with our hopes for the future. We'll invite the public to come for a wine and cheese reception to meet the Highland Square Alumni for in an informal family atmosphere. April 28, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. American Legion 783 W Market St. Akron, OH 44303. Space is limited so please Please RSVP to Lisa Bostwick via email A $25.00 donation is suggested. You can also donate on line at

Sincerely Yours,

Lisa Bostwick

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Decider will keep Gonzales

Funny how that works. The Decider has the final word, kind of like a king back when the king's word ruled over all. Gonzales gave a stellar performance before the judiciary committee --not recalling answers to questions over 70 times.

The American form of government doesn't seem so incredibly wonderful these days. I'd much rather have a parliamentary system in which the ruling brand of government can be brought down by a "lack of confidence" and replaced by a different flavor.

Instead, we must wait until 2008 until the Shrub and his minions can be sent packing. Meanwhile, the globe keeps heating up and the US forces must blast Iraq to bits whether they know it is the right thing to do or not. That's a lot of carbon released into the air over Baghdad and surrounding provinces. Not to mention all the lives and limbs lost, communities shattered beyond repair, and billions ending up in Halliburton's off shore accounts.

I wish I had some brilliant solution other than my usual response -- send for the men with the straight jacket. But instead, we will watch the political maneuvering as parties play the avoiding the blame game. I'd like to see the Democrats stand up for what is right instead of caving. Let the president keep vetoing and vetoing. At least he is then on the record and will bear the blame as long as there are humans around who pay attention to history.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day, Earth Year, Earth Decade

One day a year to focus on earth issues is no longer enough. If we wish for life on this planet to continue in a healthy, happy and sustainable way, we need to make every day Earth Day.

I had occasion to drive to Cleveland this week. All along the freeway, plastic bags were ubiquitous: snagged in trees, shrubbery, their unnatural colors dotting the landscape. Joining them were untold numbers of fast food wrappings, cups, bags and other remains of the convenience lifestyle American hold so dear that we are willing to watch the temperatures rise and the waters dry up than face reality.

Some items from the back cover of Eco-Economy by Lester Brown (W.W. Norton, 2001):
* If the Chinese people were to have a car in every garage, as Americans do, they would require 80 million barrels of oil per day, which is more than the world currently produces.

* If paper consumption in China equaled US levels, China would need more paper than the world currently produces and there would be no more forests left on earth.
Brown's book is a "road map of how to get from here to there" in terms of a sustainable economy that works for the entire planet. Unfortunately, the only road map our government chooses to follow is the one leading to blasting Iraqis and their country into bits.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Highland Theatre update

Busy weekend here at the Village Green. However, I did want to pass this along. We've been hearing some hopeful news concerning the fate of the Highland Theatre. Eric Mansfield reported on his blog that a buyer has been found for the theatre. Yesterday, this came through NEOhioPAL:
"We're having another fund-raiser next Saturday the 28th at the VFW across from Angel Falls at 7.00p. There is a requested donation of $25.00, but any donation will be gratefully accepted! Even if you can't give cash, time is a valuable asset to donate. We can use volunteers also! We're also looking for people to share their memories of the Highland Theater. If you know any seniors, or your parents and grandparents who attended this theater long ago, we'd really like to hear their stories. So please, come and have a glass of wine and a few hors d'oeurves and learn more about what's going on with this landmark next weekend! I know it’s last minute, but we really need your help. I really hope to see you!!"
Haven't heard a thing about the Civic Theatre. If anyone knows anything, please share it with us!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Night Rock Out - Ima Yora

Just to show how careful we must be in attempting to censor pop music lyrics, here's the amazing Storm Large with provocative lyrics and performance. Who would censor this?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Imus and Hip Hop

The ABJ's music critic, Malcolm X Abram, gets my vote for most insightful column about the relative significance of Imus' rude words and the hip hop members of the he-man woman haters club.

I agree that comparing the patriarchal sins of an old man to the posturing of many contemporary rappers is not very useful. Abram points to:
"The bulk of rappers who deal casually in misogyny are young black males from communities where toughness -- or at least the illusion of toughness -- is a necessary survival trait, and emotions and trust are signs of weakness. It's not a mature outlook, but in the tough guys' world, the odds are stacked against them. They don't fall in love and they sure as hell don't rap about it (unless they think it will be a hit song on ``blazing hip-hop and R&B!'' radio). The attitude that tough guys ``don't love them hos'' (though you better not say anything about their mamas or sisters) is in part a defense mechanism that has become the standard posture of the ``gangster rapper'' and has proven to be very financially rewarding."
Of course, kids will choose the music and lyrics that are guaranteed to set adult teeth on edge. They dress and speak in ways that separate themselves from main stream culture. There is sad immaturity in the posturing and demeaning words found in too many hip hop lyrics. Abrams points to the exploitation of young artists, many who grew up with nothing, and then find themselves paid lots of money to produce "what sells." He urges more conversations among all interested parties.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bush's legacy -- a right wing patriarchal supreme court

The court's decision to uphold banning of the rarely used "partial-birth" abortion procedure -- regardless of the woman's right to life -- is a sickening display of patriarchal arrogance. Bush and his minions have succeeded in turning the court away from women's rights and down the road toward religionist-influenced second class status.

Long after Bush has retired to brush-cutting, his court picks will continue to make decisions that will harm "our bodies and our selves."

Planned Parenthood has sent an open letter to their clients about this situation. You can read it here. You can donate to the cause here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

From all-Imus to non-stop Massacre

The Imus Spectacle has me in its grip. How wonderful to watch so many women and people of color on the news, talking about the continuing prevalence of noxious attitudes.

It's still a white man's world on camera and behind the lens. MSNBC features the following flavors of white guys from late afternoon until 10 PM.: Carlson, Matthews, Olberman and Scarborough. Women appear as minor characters, with minorities making even rarer appearances. Carlson hasn't met a feminist he won't put down. Matthews condescends to women.

Olbermann is mostly very cool, but I had to wince at his response to one of the reverend icons. (Sharpton and Jackson carry baggage, yes, but they still know how to interject some excellent uncomfortable questions.) When asked point blank, where are the women and where are minority faces and voices on their network, Olbermann pointed out that he had Alison Stewart on to sub for him whenever he was on vacation. That's great, Keith -- but what we really want is to see Alison hosting her own show every night. She did a great job on Monday night holding down the desk in the middle of the V-Tech horror show. Boot out Tucker and put Alison on instead. Trade Matthews to CNN for Christiane Amanpour. And pay her big bucks to switch from CNN. MSNBC could take the lead in diversity and bring down the percentages in one fell swoop:
"Percentage of U.S. women born blonde: 16. Percentage of women who are blonde today: 33. Percentage of TV newscasters who are blonde: 64. Percentage of Miss Americas who are blonde: 65." (TV Trivia)
Meanwhile, the media goes on to the next big story. I could only take one night of watching it and now I've had enough. It's the irrationality of it. It's the kind of act that provokes religionists to remark that their deity works in mysterious ways. The mystery to me is how people can find comfort in a god who apparently isn't so all-powerful and all-loving as they'd like to believe.

A talking head tonight said that the US leads the world in numbers of massacres by deranged persons. If anything is to be learned from this unspeakable act of cruelty, perhaps it is by putting it within context of all the others and asking some hard questions about cultural climate like is there some kind of correlation between human population growth and the rise of whacked out gun-men?

Monday, April 16, 2007

May all your endings be green

This month's edition of Angie's List is The Green Living issue. Angie's List is a source for user-generated reviews of a wide variety of consumer services. Kind of like Consumer Reports but not for goods, rather for finding a reliable roofer, mechanic, dog-walker and so on. You can take a tour here. I've been subscribing to it for as long as I've been a home-owner (8 years).

There aren't enough reports from the Akron area yet. Lots and lots for Cleveland. So I find that I mostly am writing in reports rather than finding good service via Angie's List. I have found a few places via Angie's, and have been happy every time I used a recommended service.

Another benefit of Angie's List is the monthly magazine that is available for subscribers online and in a print edition. It always has useful and well-written articles generally based on a theme per issue.

In this latest Green issue, an article by Eileen Finan gives us the details on how to arrange a green funeral. The American Way of Death continues to be excessive and quite inconveniently, toxic to our planet. Finan writes of "A new burial movement, already well-established in England where it began in the early 90s, seeks a return to a simpler, environmentally friendlier Earthly exodus, advocating shrouds or coffins of local wood on land that retains its natural features. According to the author, most modern cemeteries have more in common with toxic landfills than with peaceful idyllic plots of groves and grass strewn with marble. She quotes one fellow who has a $500 plot in a natural burial cemetery, "I'm going in the ground to rot. Why not make it as fast as possible?"

What might a green funeral look like? From the British company Natural Endings:
"Woodland burial is increasingly becoming the environmentally friendly choice and the obvious choice for a green funeral. Having a woodland burial helps to create a protected piece of woodland for future generations. The general principal is that a biodegradable coffin (cardboard, bamboo, seagrass, willow or sustainable wood) or shroud is used. At most woodland burial grounds a native tree is planted on (or close to) the grave. Often a flat memorial engraved stone or wooden plaque is used to identify the grave. The site is managed to encourage native wildlife, plants and wild flowers. Some grounds are privately owned or owned by nature charities. Others are areas in county council cemeteries."
As one who cringes at the typical American funeral display of embalmed body in lavish display case made of a wide variety of synthetic materials, I applaud this new back to the worms movement. I'd always thought I'd go for cremation. Turning into ashes appeals because it is less messy and much faster. Now I'm wondering how much CO2 that process contributes to the atmosphere.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Honour is a mere scutcheon

Shakespeare's history plays are all too timeless. Contenders and pretenders elbow each other for the crown, grasping and grappling for the patriarchal staff of authority. Somehow they manage to convince thousands of men to face each other on a field of battle and go at it with swords and pikes until enough blood has gushed away on one side or the other.

Sitting in the enveloping darkness of the theatre tonight watching Henry IV Part 1, the following speech brought all of my senses to attentiveness. The actor, alone in a pool of light, gave us the following words -- in a delivery so profoundly true to the moment that I felt a burning tear in the corner of my eye:
"Can honour set to a leg? No. Or an arm? No. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery then? No. What is honour? A word. What is in that word honour? What is that honour? Air - a trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died a Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. 'Tis insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I'll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon - and so ends my catechism."
A scutcheon is the shield that is painted on a coat of arms. It offers no real protection. Staying the course may sound honorable to some, but the warriors would prefer they have body armor.

The words the leaders use to send the young men off to war may have changed in form over the years, but the end result remains the same. Young people die for no good reason, while others bear wounds that will never heal.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Some Items I didn't Buy at the Akron Antiquarian Book Fair

The Complete Works of Darwin, 39 volumes, illustrated w/color plates -- $2,500-

and the companion set of Darwin's Correspondence, 15 volumes to date -- $1,500-

Extinct Animals, 1935 b&w illustrations. -- $135-

Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry, special limited edition oversize with block print illustrations, in French-- only $300-

The Costume of the Original Inhabitants of the British Isles to the 6th century, oversize with color plates--$1850-

An autograph of John Barrymore--$200- (I was very tempted...)

An autograph of Ethel Barrymore -- $100-(I already have her autograph on an old theatre program and it didn't cost $100)

And finally, a very affordable volume entitled The Complete History of Torture by George Riley Scott, illustrated -- only $50. It's the kind of book Dick Cheney might have in his bookcase.

The Akron Antiquarian Book Fair continues Saturday, ten til four pm at the John S Knight Center in downtown Akron.

Art Haines and the Solar Electric Car

In honor of Step It Up Akron, here's something to consider: build your own solar powered automotive device. More on Art Haines can be found here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Akron Antiquarian Book Fair -- duty and lots of books call

I will be pretty scarce around here for the next three days. Tonight is set up for the Book Fair and then all day tomorrow and Saturday. The Fair, as reported here, will open for the public tomorrow at 3 PM.

Hope to see a lot of Akronites in attendance!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More on Pet Food Recall

From The Globe and Mail, we find out that Menu Foods CFO sold half his stocks just before the recall of tainted wheat gluten products was announced.

Additional brands of pet foods were also added to the recall list today, including some Nutro and Royal Canin brands. Check here for the updated lists.

Looking for a list of pet foods NOT on the recall list? Check here.

Websites chock full of information regarding pet food:

DailyKos Diary by SusanHu: Menu Foods CFO Dumped Stock Before Recall Announced [UPDATED]

Itchmo, a Seattle area website for pet care, with pertinent information on the pet food recall.

An interesting article by Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM, on feline diabetes connected to cat food, including a look at cat evolution and a history of the pet food industry here.

Reading through all these sites tonight, it becomes clear that the pet food industry from day one has been all about making profits from animal waste matter without any controls or oversight. It is tragic that pets had to die in order for us to see through all the commercial BS (think miniature wagon trains and tail wagging puppies on your TV screen).

Senator Durbin is holding a hearing on the pet food scandal Thursday April 12 at 2 PM EDT. Check to see if it will be shown on C-Span.

Monday, April 09, 2007

No Impact Man on The Colbert Show tonight!

I've become a huge fan of No Impact Man over the past few weeks. I check his blog every day, because it is filled with great ideas for lowering one's impact upon the environment. No Impact Man walks his talk -- not taking elevators is just one of the ways he has changed his lifestyle.

In today's entry, he talks about taking his own cloth napkin to restaurants instead of using the paper products that are invariably offered. What a great idea! He also takes them to shops and wraps his cheese purchases in the handy cloth instead of accepting a plastic bag or container.

In the days before paper napkins, tissues, towels -- everybody recycled their old fabrics. In the 50s, remember my dad had a pile of pocket handkerchiefs that were duly laundered and ironed every week. In centuries past, the English called them "nose rags." I will be cutting up old sheets and clothing and making a pile for myself. Thanks for the tip, No Impact Man!

This summer, I plan to redesign my lifestyle so that I am not purchasing food products in plastic containers. One of my major goals is to convince The Mustard Seed to either stop selling items in #5 plastic containers or else taking responsibility for what they are sending out into the environment by collecting used containers for recycling. Akron's recycle trash collection will only accept #1 and #2 plastics.

BTW, I stopped at the Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Montrose for the first time, after reading about the chain in Peter Singer's The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (to be reviewed here soon). Singer stated that this Mexican food chain has taken steps to provide cruelty-free pork and chicken (not yet beef) in its food. I ordered a vegetarian burrito, but didn't think to ask them to not put in a paper napkin. I did notice that the container of guacamole that came with my meal was made out of plastic #1 and did an excellent job of holding its contents without spills. Why can't The Mustard Seed provide #1 or #2 containers like Chipotle? I will be asking them that question, as I regularly purchase brewer's yeast from them and the only way it can be purchased is in the non-recyclable plastic #5.

So tonight -- we actually get to see No Impact Man on The Colbert Report! I'm looking forward to it and hope you all will check him out as well.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What's in Your Pet's Food?

According to Pet Connection, 3570 pets have lost their lives due to the tainted wheat gluten in various pet food products. The FDA is reporting very low numbers. There is a huge disconnect going on here. The FDA numbers are very suspect because they admit that they have no time to investigate individual pet deaths but instead are still focused on tracking the poison. Pet Connection's figures are reported by pet-owners who have registered at their site.

Regardless of the numbers, this incident clues us in that pet foods are not thoroughly inspected in this country and that we need to look carefully at the ingredients on anything we feed our companion animals.

Many of us did not realize that "meat by-products" means just about any dead animal that can be carried to a rendering plant, including euthanized pound dogs and cats, their carcasses containing pentobarbital or something equally unpleasant to think about being in kitty cat's dinner bowl. Various fillers and grains are major ingredients, including the notorious "wheat gluten" that was shipped from China. I'm sure we are all wondering why pet foods made in the US and Canada need to purchase wheat products from China.

This Daily Kos diary is full of recommendations from pet owners for healthier foods. Fortunately, I was not feeding my animal pals any of the items on the list, but after reading jhritz's diary, I definitely began to question what I had been feeding them -- high priced branded food that turns out to be just the same as the store house brands, with animal by-products listed among the ingredients. So I switched to Wellness brand food over the weekend. My cat, Caliban (as seen above), has had hairball problems since the day I got him from a rescue society. It's early days, but so far, the new food is staying down and so are the hairballs. Oberon, the huskador retriever, will eat anything so his change of diet at the moment is more comforting to me than to him. I will be keeping close tabs on both of them over the coming weeks.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ironic sign of spring

The Freeze custard stand on East Ave. in Kenmore was open today. In the middle of snow showers, lines of customers stood at the windows! I didn't have my camera with me, unfortunately.

In other local news, the Montrose Barnes and Noble had a small table of "green issues" books on display today. I bought two of them:

It's Easy Being Being Green, A Handbook for Earth-Friendly Living by Crissy Trask

The Carbon Buster's Home Energy Handbook, Slowing Climate Change and Saving Money by Godo Stoyke.

I'll be reading these books full of practical tips this week instead of making plans to attend Step It Up, Akron -- a rally for Climate Action taking place a week from today. Thanks to Pho, I found this out today. You'd think that something this important might have been advertised a wee bit more around this town....sheesh.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Akron to Lose Low-cost Dental Clinic

Sometimes the local news is so disgusting I just want to scream out loud. Yesterday's ABJ reports that Akron Community Health Resources will be closing Akron's only low-cost dental clinic which has served over 2500 citizens. Reason? No funding available. The grants have dried up, the feds won't help, and the poor will be left to turn up at our hospital emergency rooms for treatment. Who will pay that cost? You and I, of course. And what will the poor suffering dental patient get out of it? Pain medication and maybe an antibiotic. No actual dental work.

Our citizens teeth are allowed to rot while the federal government continues to pour billions of dollars into blowing the Iraqi landscape and people into bits. Look at the head of the column to the right here. See that 412 billion and growing has already vanished from our economy. When I began this blog last August the figure was around 360 some billion. The ruination of Iraq and the decline of civilization in this country go hand in hand.

Checking out the comments under the ABJ article, I was somewhat surprised to see many sympathetic voices with only a smattering of "poor people are that way by choice" diatribes. One person suggested that a portion of the proposed tax increase go to funding the clinic permanently and if that were the case, I'd vote for it without hesitation.

To those who could only comment "get a job," I would ask them how people with rotting teeth will fare in job interviews. Will their general health increase or decrease with dental problems?

I was so enraged by this news that I emailed our new senator to ask if he could help. I am embarrassed to be living in a city that cannot find help for its poorest citizens.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Save the Clissold Arms Preservation Society

Ray and Dave Davies grew up in Muswell Hill, an area in north London. Many of their greatest songs refer to the landscapes and people there. An old pub by the name of the Clissold Arms holds the distinction of being the place where they first played in public with the Little Green amp. Over the decades, various memorabilia has been hung on the wall to commemorate the greatest rock band ever to come out of the UK. Fans from all over the world on Kinks pilgrimage make it one of their stops - "to raise a glass to rock stars of the past, those that made it and those that faded."

Recently the pub was purchased by one of those people with no regard for history and no sense of style. The announcement was made that the pub would be made over into a high class hang out (a "gastropub") and the Kinks treasures might very well go out the door to auction.

A great to-do has been made about this. Articles written, local politicians, fans and celebrities outraged and an online petition immediately went up. The pressure was felt very quickly and the new owner has promised not to mess with one of the holiest of Kinksian shrines! However, go ahead and sign the petition. You never know when the gentrifiers might strike again!

Here's a lovely tribute to the affair by long time Kinks fan and musician from Hawaii, Jim Smart:

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Akron Residency Requirement

I've been thinking about this week's ruling that a state law will overturn Akron's charter requirement that its workers live in the city. It's a complex issue. Does any government have the right to tell its workers where to live?
Should the state government interfere with local decisions that ultimately have no effect on the state's interests?

According to the ABJ report, Akron residents have consistently backed the charter mandate for city employees to reside within the city they work. The reasoning is that workers who live in the city will care more about the services they provide. Do we really want people making decisions about our daily business when those people jump into their SUVs and drive off to the suburbs? Looking at the result of this law -- is our city better for insisting that its employees live within its boundaries?

On the other hand, the city workers say they should have the right to live where they choose. Why should they be forced to live the urban life style and have to deal with all of the accompanying problems?

I don't know if there is a "right" ruling on this issue. Certainly I agree that people should live where they want. And yet -- and yet -- I am so disturbed by the suburban life-style and all its accompanying damaging effects upon the environment. The farms have vanished, replaced by hideous polluting agro-farms, and mini-mansions dot the country-side. Four door garages bespeak the enormous amounts of fuel burned by the suburban dwellers. Interspersed among the suburban enclaves are vast shopping meccas and further out, the landfills are the repositories of our extremely wasteful lifestyles.

One day, I'm quite sure, people will have far fewer choices about where they live. The limitations might be caused by lack of fuel for vehicles or to the toxicity of the land and air, not to mention the changing climate conditions.

If we all lived a bike ride away from our jobs maybe we'd be healthier along with our communities. I'd prefer to see that happen without making it a law, but then again -- I've always been an idealistic dreamer.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hillary, Nancy and all the rest

I received an emailed letter from Hillary, thanking me for my support. I didn't send any money and I haven't done any campaigning, but I did once write about her here. I submitted that post to Hillary's site as they were asking for blog entries. It didn't get posted, probably because it wasn't a ringing endorsement. However it did get me on her email list and I've received a lot of interesting email from the likes of Geraldine Ferraro, Madeline Albright, Jim Carville, Tom Vilsack and of course Bill Clinton.

I am ambivalent about Ms Clinton, as I am about all the candidates. This week's announcements of campaign fund-raising totals for the first quarter sickened me. All those millions to gallop around the country, burning up fossil fuel and wasting paper and taking up commercial time on television! It is no surprise, I must admit, that electioneering in this country is as wasteful and excessive as its citizens.

Another politician burning up jet fuel this week is Nancy Pelosi -- but I'm not upset by her actions. In fact, I rather wish she were running instead of Hillary. Pelosi cuts to the chase and is action oriented. I suppose I may eventually be deeply disappointed by her, as one is by all politicians eventually, but for now I'm liking that she is going to Syria to do something the Bush regime will never do: talk, listen, try to find openings for peaceful solutions.

Hillary wants us to sign a petition to Mr Bush asking him not to veto the current bill that would tie a pull out to spending:

Sign the Petition
Dear Village,

Thank you for your tremendous support over the past weeks. Saturday's deadline marked the end of the first phase of the campaign, and you made sure it was an unqualified success.

Two months ago, I said I was in it to win it, and the conversations we've been having online and around the country have convinced me more than ever that I've made the right decision. This country needs change, and it's going to take experienced leadership to make that change happen. Together, we can accomplish great things.

We can end the war in Iraq. We can achieve universal health care coverage. We can commit to energy independence. We can restore America's rightful place on the world stage.

Working together, we'll get our country back on track. It's going to be a long journey with a lot of hard work, but I can't think of anything more important.

So let's get back to work. I need your help right now on an important issue.

Last week we passed historic legislation in the Senate that calls for a phased redeployment for our troops in Iraq while ensuring they have the support they need. It's an important first step in ending the war in Iraq. But President Bush has threatened to veto the bill.

The American people have had enough of the president's failed strategy in Iraq. Join me today. Tell President Bush to listen to the will of the people and withdraw his veto threat.

Again, thank you so much for the tremendous support you have shown during this campaign. You've exceeded everyone's expectations, and I know I couldn't do this without you.


Do you think it will do any good?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Save the seals

Once again, greed wins out over the environment and common sense. The annual bloodbath in Canada began today, according to the Humane Society. This year, however, 90% of the baby seal population is reported to have already met an untimely death, due to global warming. The ice broke up too early before the baby seals were able to swim. Now just a few are left to face the commercial club-wielding "harvesters." Humans seem to care nothing about driving other species into extinction. We'd better have a care before we do the same to ourselves.

These seals are killed for fashion items, and no other reason. It is an outrage and I just sent the Humane Society a donation for the cause. You can too by clicking here.

Many years ago, the singer Donovan put out an album called HMS Donovan with a song called "Celia of the Seals." It is going round and round in my head as I read of the continuing plight of these lovely creatures who harm nothing and who threaten no one.

Seal hunters are not brave and bold,
They murder her poor wee seals
And cut off their skins to be sold,
Cursed be he who deals.
There's no reason for this slaughtering,
They're left on the rocks to bleed
He's not a man who does this thing,
It's a cruel and a heartless deed,
A cruel and a-heartless deed.

Celia of the seals,
She knows just how they feel,
Celia of the seals.
You can get a sample listen here and full lyrics are posted here.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Back on track//New Green Issues

Welcome to April at the Village Green. It's a glorious sunny day here: the lilacs are displaying green shoots and purple tips and birds are busy courting.

March was a long hard slog of a month, work-wise. Happily, the latest big production came off with style and flair and at least one good review (biased it may be, but we'll take it anyway!) Spring break is just four work days away. I've got a basket of pansies ready to plant and a list of house-hold improvements to tackle.

Please note the new Green Links section on the Village Green. I have spent more time reading other blogs this weekend than thinking up posts for this one. No Impact Man is inspiring reading, as it makes us uncomfortably aware of how much negative impact our daily mindless actions have upon our environment.

Some sensational news from San Francisco -- they've taken a stand against plastic bags! No more petroleum-based bags at grocery stores:
"The San Francisco Department of the Environment estimates that currently about 180 million plastic shopping bags are distributed in San Francisco each year. About 774,000 gallons of oil are used to produce this number of shopping bags."
Instead grocery stores and eventually the big chain pharmacies will use recyclable bags that can go into the compost bins. SF citizens can now recycle compostables in city-issued compost bins:

"A handy side benefit of the compostable bags is that they can be recycled in the City’s green food compost bins, which will hopefully make it more convenient and appealing for residents to compost their food scraps. (Incidentally, compostable bags are also available for sale at many local retailers. The San Francisco Department of Environment's compostable bags webpage gives a list of stores in San Francisco where you can purchase the bags).

The Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance, sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, is one of a number of initiatives intended to advance the City’s goal of diverting 75 percent of its solid waste from landfills by 2010."

How to get Akron on the fast track toward a similar goal? The sad irony is that one day everybody will have to take such measures because there will be no room left in Ohio landfills -- unless we all want to live with landfills crowding our borders.

Meanwhile, check out the list of sources for compostable bags given above the in the story from WorldChanging's web site. Creative people are inventing new solutions for many of the problems brought about by the push for convenience at the expense of the environment.