Monthly Archives: February 2009

I LOVE this blog….

Here’s a line from a blog my pal Jodene pointed me to:

…when religion becomes more institution than faith, there is no room for change.

Jocelyn, the professed and proud Christian author of WTF Would Jesus Do? is my hero.  She reads the news, listens, and passes harsh judgment on those who use the Christian religion for their own usually-power-or-personal-gain-involved reasons.  She calls ’em like she sees ’em and she sees a lot of hypocrisy and self-service in the headlines.

She wants her faith back, she wants the loving Jesus her grandmother’s talk about back. She takes on the ridiculous revenue-generating nonsense of creationism vs. science, the seriously revenue-and-power-generating issue of gays and gay marriage, wildly suggesting that Jesus loves us all…where’s the money in that?  She even takes on the issue of Christian Pajamas. She’ll stop at nothing.

Jocelyn: you are flat-out awesome.  May the force be with you.

Free to Be Kids

I love this vid put together by two of my fave people in the world.

The Plastic Generation

Recall the famous scene from The Graduate:

Mr. Maguire: Ben. I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.

Ben: Yes sir?

Mr. Maguire: Are you listening?

Ben: Yes, I am.

Mr. Maguire: Plastics.

Plastics. That’s Mr. Maguire’s advice for Ben about his bright future. Of course he was right, even if the full blossom of Plastics has taken many roads and many incarnations. This weekend I was at my nephew’s house and was reminded of this scene in The Graduate because this home, average in many and good ways, has 3 kids and 2 adults and there was more plastic in that house than I’ve seen perhaps ever.

And while most of the plastic may well be useful (who am I to judge the harried life of young parents), there was one area that struck me not only as dumb, but not even useful, and in fact sort of…well, icky.


The shower, the sinks, the kitchen–there was not one bar of soap to be found in the house. Every last bit of soap in the whole house was dispensed out of some kind of plastic container that was most definitely a use-once-and-toss device. That’s right: dozens of bottles throughout the house, use once, toss into a landfill. And I’m not talking about one container per “wash-station”–there were three or four. In the bathrooms there were maybe as many as 15 or 20 containers. Each with a limited life, each destined for a landfill.

I took a shower and had to use a bottle of body wash that was sort of gummy and actually not useful to me–certainly not as easy or useful as a freakin bar of soap would have been. And of course, when you get near the bottom, the container is even more irritating since the goo inside moves so dang slowly, so out it goes and in comes the new replacement: another plastic container of goo.

People: bars of soap have worked really well for so long, really! They’re simple, and once used, they don’t go in a landfill. There’s every flavor, scent, texture, what have you. So I’m wondering: what’s with the containers of goo? How have you been sold on the idea that those plastic containers are better than a bar of soap?

The generation coming up? This is the plastic generation, the full flower of Mr. Maguire’s vision from the 60’s.

Oh, the humanity!

Gayle Chong Kwan Plastic Bottle City

Gayle Chong Kwan Plastic Bottle City

Something’s bugging me: the ubiquitous tube.

Not talking about TV.

So, one night recently while brushing my teeth, I did a quick equation in my head: let’s say the two of us use one tube of toothpaste per month. Or let’s be conservative and say we use one tube every 6 weeks. And let’s say everyone in our neighborhood is on the approximate same plan–which they’re most definitely not, since most homes house more than two people. But just for the sake of argument…

And let’s say we have approximately 30 houses on our little dead-end street. I believe that works out like this (check my math, cuz I’m lousy at it): 8.6 tubes per year per household equals 258 squeezed out tubs of toothpaste into the local landfill.

Our little street alone = 258 non-recyclable plastic tubes per year.

Now let’s just say you thought it would be worse. That my little hood’s contribution doesn’t seem like that much. But it’s toothpaste and it’s plastic tubes and it’s estimated that the country as a whole is putting well over one billion of these non-biodegradable pieces of junk into a landfill near you. Now. And every year. Over one billion.

Well, that created some dissonance for me. Here we are re-using plastic bags of every sort, composting our table scraps, avoiding using the car, eating organically, recycling like our lives depended on it…and all the while, upstairs in the bathroom is the one thing we use again and again that has virtually no chance of being recycled–it’s a straight shot into the landfill.

Needless to say, we have now in our enlightened state found ourselves in the kind of quandry that results in used up toothpaste tubes simply piling up in the medicine cabinet. Too conscious to throw it out, not having a reasonable alternative. Gonna have to figure out something soon.

Turns out there’s really only one reason to brush your teeth: microbial film. That’s right. Described as the “little coats on my teeth,” or the grody grunge feeling, that’s microbial film on your teeth and it requires an anti-bacterial party-busting agent to get rid of it. Fortunately, that party-busting agent is pretty easy to create yourself, is super cheap, and can even be made to taste pretty good. So if you, like me, are interested in figuring this conundrum out, here are some recipes I dug up on those interwebs, all of them a variation on baking soda and sea salt with flavoring and gelling agents and what not. Last night I made my first foray into the world of soda-and-salt and yowza, my mouth felt chastised…in a good way. I’m encouraged. We still have one tube left so I’ll be experimenting over the course of the coming weeks.

And soon, with any luck, I will have rid us of at least one tube habit.

Recipes for you, if you’re interested:

Homemade Mint Tooth Paste

6 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons glycerin
15 drops peppermint
Mix thoroughly. Should be a tooth paste consistency. For flavor you can add a few drops of peppermint or wintergreen. Store in a container. You’ll be surprised with how fresh your mouth feels.

Super Cleanser

Hydrogen peroxide (a few drops)
Baking soda
Make a paste by combining the two ingredients. Use this paste on your teeth and also gently rub along your gums two times a week.

Toothpaste Recipe

1/4 tsp peppermint oil
1/4 tsp spearmint
1/4 cup arrowroot
1/4 cup powdered orrisroot
1/4 cup water
1 tsp ground sage
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add water until paste is desired thickness / consistency. Store at room temperature in a tightly covered jar.
Substitute 1/2 tsp each of oil of cinnamon and oil of cloves for peppermint/spearmint if desired.

Old Fashioned Tooth Powder

2 Tbsp dried lemon or orange rind
1/4 cup baking soda
2 Tsp salt
Place rinds in food processor, grind until peel becomes a fine powder. Add baking soda and salt then process a few seconds more until you have a fine powder. Store in an airtight tin or jar. Dip moistened toothbrush into mixture, brush as usual.

Loretta’s Toothpaste

1 Tsp baking soda,
1/4 Tsp hydrogen peroxide
1 drop oil of peppermint
Mix to make a paste, dip toothbrush into mixture, brush as usual.

Basic Toothpaste

1 Tsp of the Old Fashioned Tooth Powder
1/4 Tsp Hydrogen peroxide
Mix into a paste and brush as usual.

Strawberry Tooth Cleanser

1 Tsp of the above Old Fashioned Tooth Powder
1 Tbsp crushed ripe strawberries
Mix strawberries and powder into a paste and brush as usual.

Vanilla & Rose Geranium Toothpaste

1/2 ounce powdered chalk
3 ounces powdered orris root
4 teaspoons of tincture of vanilla
15 drops oil of rose geranium
Honey, enough to make a paste
Combine all ingredients and mix until you have a paste the consistency you like. Store in an airtight container. Use a clean stick (popsicle) to scoop paste onto brush. Store the stick in same container.

Ben Franklin’s Toothpaste

Ground charcoal
Mix into a paste and rub on teeth for whiteness.

Lemon Clove Tooth Cleanser

Small amount of finely powdered sage
1 ounce of finely powdered myrrh
1 pound powdered arrow root
3 ounces powdered orris root
20 drops oil of lemon
10 drops oil of cloves
12 drops oil of bergamot
Rub oils into the powdered ingredients until thoroughly mixed

Simple toothpaste mixture

Bicarbonate of soda
Peppermint oil
Mix 3 parts bicarbonate of soda with one part salt. Add 3 tsp of glycerine for every 1/4 cup of this mixture, then add enough water to make a thick paste. Add a few drops of peppermint oil for better taste

Obama: Don’t come to the table with the same tired arguments that have failed

Obama: Don’t come to the table with the same tired arguments that have failed

Running past 50: considering Title IX

You go, girl!

Patsy Mink, Congresswoman from Hawaii, author of Title IX (my posthumous message to you: You go, girl!)

Recently I read a 2003 snippet by a running coach who was working with women over 50 and he mentioned, “remember, these women grew up in a pre-Title IX world.”

At the time of the article, I’d just turned 50. So, he was basically talking about me. For some reason, I was taken aback by the category: pre-Title IX.

Basically, for any woman under 40, Title IX is probably known more as a great clothing store for female athletes of every stripe, I love the store, though I can hardly afford it most of the time. The Real Title IX was a 1972 amendment to the Education Act and states simply:

“No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

What that means in practical terms is this: prior to Title IX, women’s sports in public schools was neither a mandatory part of a girl’s education, nor was it funded. That meant you could, if you were lucky enough to go to a school that valued sports (I did), have and participate in swimming, tennis, softball, track, whatever…only if the school felt like offering it to girls.

A funny thing: my realization around Title IX and my generation comes at the same time that I’m beginning the series Mad Men–which takes place in my early youth, early 60’s. The sexism and lack of focus on health–physical and otherwise–is terribly familiar to me, and I’m happy to say I’ve forgotten most of it and think we live in a pretty good age right now. But growing up female in that world, well, funny looking fashion aside, it sort of sucked.

I’ve talked about the situation of girls growing up now with a few of my generationally-related business guy-friends–about how important it is for a girl to learn how to compete, to push her limits out, to stretch herself. To feel competent and able, confident and strong. A lot of these guys have daughters who are in college and their perspective is interesting: they love how strong their daughters are, they hike and run with them, they support them in a million ways and take great pride and pleasure in their accomplishments.

But they also, like I, grew up in a world that was anything but supportive of girls and physical accomplishment, and they likely never gave it another thought. Some thing are definitely getting better.

So here’s to Congresswoman Patsy Mink, (yet another brilliant and forceful legislator from the great state of Hawaii) who wrote the legislative under-pinnings of Title IX and fought so hard to bring it to life. It wasn’t easy, and when it was passed, it was still heavily criticized and disregarded. Were it not for a lot of women and young girls demanding their rights, it might have lingered for a long long time.