Be Relevant

Relearning everything we've forgotten.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

We've moved the blog

Since we only have one year left till we move to TN and physically start our place, we decided to virtually start it now! 

Come join us over at www.imaginesfarm.blogspot.com 

We are really excited about this new chapter in our lives and we hope you stay with us and share it! 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Releasing Pidge

Mel released Pidge back into the wild.  At the end of the video I feel like busting out some Lynyrd Skynyrd.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to Roast Coffee at Home.

My video skills require some serious work.  Also my scripting is a little less than desired.  I turned on the kitchen exhaust and at one point touched the hot beans.    Also the last thing I say is "wait 24 hours and roast them up," it should be wait 24 hours and grind them up.  You've all ready roasted them!  All in all it's a learning experience.



Saturday, April 30, 2011

Roasting Coffee Video

OK.  So I did a video on how to roast coffee at home.  It isn't that great and now I am stuck in editing!  Give me another day and I'll see if I can pull off something nice.  If not, I'll just do pics then.

But let me tell you - roasting your own coffee beans is the easiest thing out there.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A day of Re-birth

I'm not a religious person.  Spiritual yes but not religious.  I believe in an universal consciousness and it is this that binds us all together.  Eckhart Tolle explains this better than I ever will be able to.  I mention this not to create a debate about religion but to give perspective of where I am coming from.  I couldn't help but see the tiniest metaphor with Easter and some events in my life.  

April 30th is my last day in the Navy.  This isn't really a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  But right now it feels like the only thing that matters.  I've been preparing for this for the past year.  I'm actually very well prepared for this transition or so I thought.  Surprisingly, I'm not as prepared emotionally as I thought. I feel pretty scared deep down.  There is a lot of uncertainty in my future.  Everything that happens from this point on is a direct result of me.

The past few days I have been very stressed.  Do we stay here in SoCal? Can the farm afford to hire me? If they can't what do we do? We need to find a cheaper place to live.  Are we really ready to take off and move to TN?  Then out of nowhere and completely unexpected I became depressed.  I mean I've been wanting to get out for as long as I can remember.  Never actually doing it till now and here I am depressed?  What gives?

The Navy has been a huge part of my life.  It's the only real professional career that I have known.  It defines you.  I don't think that any job should define you but the military does.  Here I am now without an identity.  At least that is how I felt emotionally.

I met an incredible person yesterday.  Everyone was telling me that she was an incredible person but I'm skeptical of such things.  I had met her briefly once before but we never really talked.  Yesterday was our first encounter in-depth.  She is one of those types of people who talks and moves a lot.  And it can seem, at first, she's not listening to you.  You get asked a question but you're not given enough time to respond.  I was totally getting frustrated.  Then I saw her interact with the customers and she was engaging them.  The first word that came to my mind was eccentric.  I'm not that bubbly of a person.  I've actually become a little shy in the past year.  Meek even.  Don't get me wrong I'll talk to anyone but usually only after I have been talked to.

It was at the height of my frustration and listening to my inner voice criticize everything that a little speck of common sense popped in.  This woman is co-owner of one of the most successful small farms in SoCal.  Her farm is known in farming circles, community activist circles, and foodie circles.  And she's done this in a little over 2 years.  This woman can teach you how to run your farm.  This woman knows what she is talking about.  It was then that I let go of my old way of thinking.  From that point on I fully understood her and I understood what I was doing.

Last night I was contemplating how I interact with people.  There must be a dark spot on my heart.  Because I don't try to build connections with people as much as I think I do.  Why don't I open up and talk to people?  And deep down I still judge.   I hate that about myself.   I guess the reality is that I am selfish with my feelings.  I don't think I need to be all bubbly but I do need have more empathy.

But the beauty of it all is that I see that.  And who I want to be is only a matter of me being just that.  I have control over how I wish to react to a certain situation.  I have control over how my life measures up to my expectations.  Life is about building relationships.  They can be between people, between animals, between land and possessions.  They are even between ourselves - our internal struggles.  Those relationships each have their own values that we give them.  It is up to each of us to prioritize those relationships then nurture them accordingly.

I am choosing to strengthen all those relationships.  I'm not scared anymore.  I'm still uncertain about the future but I am kind of excited about it.  We all have the ability to change our lives for the better every day.  We tend to look for some major event that can signify that shift.  It's just not every day one of those events come along and I think this is what causes stagnation for us all.  Luckily my event came along.  And I'm not going to waste it being scared, depressed, or unwilling to build relationships and truly live.

Happy Easter to those that celebrate it.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Railroad Revival Tour tonight in San Pedro & It's Earth Day!

Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and Olde Crow Medicine Show - this is going to be a great show!

Also make sure you hug your Earth today.  Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Our new friend Pidge

At Mel's work a baby pigeon had fallen down behind the bleachers into an "alley way." This area is where some of the bigger dogs run through to get to the stage. Unfortunately all of those dogs wouldn't pass up a baby pigeon hanging out there.  So here's Pidge.  She's close to being feathered out which means she'll be able to fly soon and be released.  We've also seen her eating from the grain we are giving her so hopefully the hand feeding is going to stop soon.  4-5 times a day is definitely an adjustment to a schedule.




Friday, April 15, 2011

Stinging Nettle Soup topped with Homemade Sour Cream

This recipe is from "The Dirty Life" by Kristin Kimball.

Melt butter in a pot and add a diced onion.  Simmer till translucent then add the nettles.  Add garlic then chicken stock and a some rice.  Simmer till all is soft.  Salt, pepper, and add nutmeg.  Blend till smooth.  I also added some Heavy Cream because I salted it too much. Finally top it off with homemade sour cream.

Not bad.  Mel is reserving judgement.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My First Chicken Tractor!



So in my defense I made this completely from salvaged materials and all I had was a blurry pic printed off the internet to decipher how to build this.

It's a copy of Joel Salatin's chicken tractor.  10 ft X 12 ft and should accommodate 90 chickens.  He uses 1 X 3 lumber to build his to keep the weight down.  His still weighs between 150-200 lbs.  I used 2 X 4 lumber so this puppy has some heft to it.  Be guaranteed that nothing is getting in or out and we don't have to worry about the wind blowing it over.

Here is the frame that I put together.  I had to brace it due to the lengths making the wood flimsy.


Here's a pic of a joint so you can see how I fastened them together.



And here's the finished product.  I was so intent on finishing this today I didn't really get that many pictures.  I used the tin roofing to help keep the weight down but keep the security up.


Like I said it's rough looking but it was free!




Well there's the finished product.  Now to get it into the field and get some chickens in it!


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grinning Dog Productions...


So I'm looking to branch out into video blogging as well.  Sometimes writing becomes a drag.  Not that writing is a drag but trying to think of something to put down that you all might find interesting - that can be a drag.  

Tons of interesting crap happens to me daily.  Hourly even.  But if I don't write it down right then and there it probably won't happen unless it is amazing.  I don't want to hash things up that happened 3 weeks ago.  That kind of feels lame.  Plus I have so many projects going (ADHD) that if something gets filed into the I'll get to that file it is history.

My video skillz, with a z, aren't that great.  Well luckily I'm at that point in life where I can except the fact that the first time is going to be crap, the second time is going to be crap, the third time is going to be crap......eventually, it will be good.  I'm also old enough to not care and publish my crap!  Don't worry the vids will get better and more interesting.  I have a GoPro waterproof video camera that attaches to my board so that is coming real soon!!!  I also want to experiment with music so I need to start making friends with bands.

Till my Sundance Festival debut please enjoy Bleu getting her ear rubbed as much as she does!  

Keep surfing!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The 3 Things I Learned at Growing Power

There were a lot more than just 3 things that I learned this past weekend at Growing Power.  But these 3 points have shifted my way of thinking.

1.  We can't exclude anyone anymore.  The context that it was used in was talking about excluding the WalMarts of the world from the organic roundtable.  There tends to be a shared distrust, rightfully so, of corporate America in the environmental/organic realm.  So Will Allen's, CEO and founder of Growing Power, point is that we are at such a tipping point that we can no longer exclude them.  This is a problem that we all need to fix together.

I agree wholeheartedly and I also think that statement encompasses our lives in general.  Let's strip away the obvious connotation of discrimination that a statement like that may induce thoughts of and look at it a little deeper.  How many of you actually let people into your lives?  Including the normal immediate family?  I know that I don't.  I know that I can keep most people at arm's length.  I don't want to open myself up to be vulnerable to their needs.  So I exclude people from thoughts and actions.  My sense of community starts with me at the epicenter and encompasses all of those within my wall of shared beliefs. But it cannot be that way anymore.  We, collectively, are a single entity and to exclude anyone is akin to not listening to our conscience.

2.  Its about building the relationships.  I took a composting class while I was there.  During this class we had to build an urban compost pile made out of wood pallets and hardware cloth.  Then we had to fill it.  The first layer was wood chips about 4 inches deep.  This is the carbon layer.  The next layer was vegetables and fruit also 4 inches deep.  This is the nitrogen layer.  The layer after that was 4 more inches of carbon.  Then 4 more inches of nitrogen.  Then carbon.  Then nitrogen.  All the way to the top with the last layer being carbon.

When we were done Will Allen asked us if we were surprised at the amount of material required to fill the compost bin?  Everyone said yes because it had taken at least two dozen produce boxes and numerous shovels of wood chips to fill it.  Then in passing, and I am not sure how many people heard him, he said, "Its not about getting the materials its about building the relationships to get the materials."

It stuck with me and it resonated.  Everything about farming is about building relationships.  We get so focused on growing the food that we overlook the relationship between the soil and the plant or the plant with the environment.  More to the point, life is about building relationships.  We become so focused on the end results in life that we don't focus on what really matters: the relationship.  If we build and nurture the relationships, the results will take care of themselves.

3.  Be relevant.  On Saturday night I awoke at midnight and stayed awake till almost 4 in the morning.  My brain just turned on and wouldn't turn off.  I think I was just excited about what I had learned that day and how I could implement that into the farm I volunteer at and eventually my own.  Yet there was another feeling/thought that I had.  I couldn't help but feel very small next to Will Allen.  Besides the fact he is a large man I felt my entire being was small.  My accomplishments in life pale in comparison to his.

I realized in the course of my insomnia that the difference between him and I came down to relevancy.  We both want to help and we both want to do good.  There are real problems that the community within which Growing Power resides faces.  Growing Power has been set up to answer those problems.  Growing Power is relevant to it's community.  The majority of our actions, though good, are not relevant to the problems we face.  Most of the things we have, if we are honest about it, aren't relevant either.  Most people, myself included, tend to judge actions through the lenses of efficiency and effectiveness.  I think we should start measuring it against relevancy.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Forgiveness & Salvation


Forgiveness & Salvation

“Grass is the forgiveness of nature -- her constant benediction. Fields trampled with battle, saturated with blood, torn with the ruts of cannon, grow green again with grass, and carnage is forgotten. Streets abandoned by traffic become grass-grown like rural lanes, and are obliterated. Forests decay, harvests perish, flowers vanish, but grass is immortal. Beleaguered by the sullen hosts of winter, it withdraws into the impregnable fortress of its subterranean vitality, and emerges upon the first solicitation of spring. Sown by the winds, by wandering birds, propagated by the subtle horticulture of the elements which are its ministers and servants, it softens the rude outline of the world. Its tenacious fibres hold the earth in its place, and prevent its soluble components from washing into the wasting sea. It invades the solitude of deserts, climbs the inaccessible slopes and forbidding pinnacles of mountains, modifies climates, and determines the history, character, and destiny of nations. Unobtrusive and patient, it has immortal vigor and aggression. Banished from the thoroughfare and the field, it bides its time to return, and when vigilance is relaxed, or the dynasty has perished, it silently resumes the throne from which it has been expelled, but which it never abdicates. It bears no blazonry or bloom to charm the senses with fragrance or splendor, but its homely hue is more enchanting than the lily or the rose. It yields no fruit in earth or air, and yet should its harvest fail for a single year, famine would depopulate the world.” [1]

Grasses, to too many of us, mean the sullen stubble that we esteem to adorn our living spaces. We even give it it's own name, a lawn, and it's vitality and care is an indicator of social success. Yet this is the lowest form of Nature's forgiveness. The beauty of grass is in the diversity of Nature's benevolence. For Nature does not dole out forgiveness equally. Nature's forgiveness can be as great as the cereals: wheat, millet, oats, rye, sorghum, barley, rice and maize. Or as limited as a lawn. We began with the forgiveness of Nature. Teff, spelt, einkorn, emmer, and durum are species of wheat that stood by us in the beginning. Buckwheat, quinoa, and amarynth are pseudo-cereals but grasses none the less. There are the grasses of the plains and grasslands that for centuries held fertility from the grasp of the winds across the open land of the midwest. The sedges and the rushes are found in the grasslands as well as the marshes. They filter water of it's impurities and make it fresh for all life. Papyrus, a rush, gave a bed for the written word to lay in. Bamboo is a grass. Nature's forgiveness feeds, clothes, and shelters us.

If grass is Nature's forgiveness then soil is our salvation. It is the soil from which Nature's forgiveness will sprout. And it is the soil that will pass judgement on us. It's very nature and structure will dictate if we are deserving of forgiveness. Nature has carefully been building it from the beginning. Mountains crumble slowly beneath the slow pressures of rain, wind, snow, and the sun. Freezing, thawing, expanding, contracting, cracking they turn all mountains to soil. Rivers cut through rock layer by layer. Glaciers moving at glacial speeds grind rock against rock to create sand, silt, and clay. These are the foundations of soil. Names given to indicate size and drainage.

Sand is the largest, followed by silt then clay. Pure sand drains water quickly. Watch the waves retreat off a beach. Does the water slip back into the ocean or does it disappear into the sand? Look even closer and see the dampness chase after the waves like a following shadow. Never holding water, without the waves it becomes a desert, loose and dry. Only special plants with roots that grow exceptionally deep or have leaves that can absorb moisture from the air can tolerate sand.

Clay is microscopic particles of soil that may as well be powder. Once wet those particles bind and create an impenetrable layer for water. Causing the land to shed needed rainwater, instead of soaking it up and recharging our dwindling ground water, which then causes many problems – flooding being one. When dried after being wet, clay creates a cement like surface from which there is no forgiveness. Dried clay is the archetypical cracked and blistered earth.

Silt is between sand and clay. That would lead one to believe that silt is the optimal building block for soil. But one would be wrong. Silt's size make it easy to be carried away by both water and wind. Clouding water supplies, which chokes fish, or clouding the air, which choke us. Silt is the most vulnerable. It cannot repel or accept the forces pitted against it.

The perfect soil is a mixture of the three. In nearly equal parts. It's called loam. It soaks up water and holds it as well as lets it drain. Plants need it both ways. They require the water for growth but not so much that their roots drown. The three are stronger together then apart. Yet this is only the inorganic material that Nature has used to create structure. Soil is also organic material.

A living thing will return to the soil from which it comes. Nature carefully takes apart the nucleotides and peptides she so precisely organized into DNA. The nutrients and building blocks from which new life is made. Humus is the dividing line. Beyond humus is the realm of inorganic. It is a line as fine and fragile as a spider's thread. Beyond humus no longer provides the nourishment that plants need. Humus is the work of community. Nature enlists the help of earthworms, dung beetles, sow bugs, millipedes, and many more. The slow process of breaking large into small is repeated many times. Each time a new member of the community steps in. The smaller parts are broken down by fungus and molds to even smaller parts. Finally those are broken down by billions of microbes. It is said that a teaspoon of soil contains more life than all the people on the planet. We share a kinship with soil when we try to comprehend the vastness of space.

The dust kicks up off the freshly tilled earth and with each gust of wind we lose our salvation. The soil must be covered. Either from decaying material in the form of a mulch or by Nature's forgiveness as a green mulch. This covering of the soil is it's skin. The protective layer that keeps moisture in and harmful heat and wind out. The forgiveness given by Nature will hold the soil in place through the toughest rain storm. It protects the soil in its entirety. For here is the secret. Soil is not just sand, silt and clay.

Our salvation lies in it all: sand, silt, clay, humus, earthworms, fungi, molds, sow bugs, microbes, and mulches. Without the clay there is no water retention and we have the barren space of a desert. Without the sand there is no drainage and we have floods in the rainy season and parched, cracked earth in drought. Without the humus there are no building blocks. Without the life in the soil there is no humus. Without a protective covering there is no moisture or life.

Soil is our salvation. Because our salvation lies in our ability to allow Nature to forgive us. But Nature's forgiveness is conditional. We may have the loam but no humus and Nature will forgive us enough to cover the soil. Nature will pass on the deficiency in nutrients to us. Externalizing her costs. It is only fair. We may even have the humus but we don't protect it. Nature will again forgive us but slowly, and at the cost of precious water. We can and have tried to bribe Nature into forgiving us through the use of chemical fertilizers. Each time Nature has turned the other cheek. Forgiving us though we surely are not deserving. At what point will she stop? Our salvation lies in the soil beneath our feet. All we need to do, is to finally ask for forgiveness. 


[1] "In Praise of Blue Grass” by John James Ingalls (1833-1900), Senator from Kansas from 1873 to 1891. Excerpted from Grass - The Yearbook of Agriculture 1948. U. S. Government Printing Press. Washington 1948.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Some good news for a change


One of the mailing lists I am on sent these out.  Some good news!

Kellogg's pledges to purchase sustainable palm oil certificates
Business Green
GreenPalm, which is operated by Hull-based Book&Claim, enables palm oil ... standards established by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). ...

Campaign success: Indonesian palm oil company pledges to end ...
Wildlife Extra
September 2010: Burger King drops contract with GAR and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil(RSPO) criticises GAR for its environmental and social ...


The mailing list is simply called the "Palmoil" list and more information can be found here:  
 http://lists.aza.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/palmoil

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Never buy coffee creamer, butter, buttermilk, whipped cream, or sour cream again

Sometimes things are right in front of you.  I bought some heavy whipping cream a couple of weeks ago to make a sauce.  I bought the little pint job and used most of it.  There was a little left over and it soon became relegated to the space behind the milk.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I happened on it and it was still a few days before it's expiration.  Not wanting to waste it I began using it in my coffee.  Delightful.

I picked up a quart this time because by volume it is cheaper.  This morning as I added it to my coffee I was hearing Mel in my ear telling me how bad that heavy cream is for me.  If there was only some way to cut the amount of fat in half...I am blonde remember this.  

Half & Half is exactly that.  Half milk and half cream or heavy whipping cream.  Here's the beauty of buying the heavy whipping cream by the quart (2 pints).  Use 1/4 of it (1/2 pint) and use the same amount of milk and you now have great tasting coffee creamer.  Get creative and add vanilla extract, almond flavoring, hazelnut flavoring, pumpkin pie spice, etc and you have your own coffee flavoring for a fraction of the cost.

You also have 3/4 of quart of heavy whipping cream left which is equivalent to 1 1/2 pints or 3 cups.  Now here comes the fun part.  You need to make sure that you use organic everything because you need the natural cultures that are present.   

From 2 cups of heavy whipping cream (1 pint) placed into a jar with a lid and shaken like crazy you will get butter and buttermilk.  Push the butter through a strainer or cheese cloth to get the excess butter milk and curds out, then salt to taste - or add honey or garlic or rosemary or thyme, or !!! - and you have the best tasting butter you will ever have.  It will stay good for about a week but it all depends on if you get all the curds out of it.  It is the curds that will make it spoil.  The amount you make from 2 cups is very manageable that I doubt it would last a week.  There are ways to store the butter for longer.  Look up a French butter bell crock.  I plan to try that and use making butter as my default when my heavy whipping cream is about to spoil and I don't need any of the other products.

I use my Kitchen Aid mixer with the whisk attachment.  Since I use my mixer there is a point where the cream becomes whipped and starts to "stand up."  At this point if you add sugar and vanilla extract and just mix till blended you have really creamy whipped cream that goes great on hot chocolate.  If you push beyond this point the cream gets a fluffy spread like texture that tastes like butter. Keep going and the butter separates out into solid chunks and there is a pool of buttermilk in the mixer.  Pretty neat.

From 2 cups of heavy whipping cream (1 pint) placed into a jar with a lid, if you add 1 tbsp of cultured buttermilk or 1/4 cup of sour cream, shake the heck out of it, let it stand at room temperature for 24-48 hours (or until it thickens) and you will have the best tasting sour cream you have ever had.  This will also last a week in the fridge.  One little note though, the last time I made sour cream I had organic cultured buttermilk so I added a tbsp from that.  This time when I make it I will take a 1/4 cup from some organic sour cream I bought.  I have not used the buttermilk made from heavy whipping cream so I don't know if it has the cultures needed.  But I will try it and let you know.

You will still have some heavy cream left over.  Use it for more coffee creamer or to make a sauce.  Plus the amounts I gave can always be scaled up.  

So buying all that extra stuff at the store is unnecessary.  Besides that stuff isn't cheap.  Another added benefit is that you aren't wasting stuff.  I don't know about you but I always come across a can of whipped cream out of gas or half a tub of sour cream growing mold.   Now you can make all your stuff to order with just minutes of prep and a little planning ahead.  Lastly, anything that you make from scratch tends to taste better than store bought.

Keep track of how much that saves you and put it towards a debt you may have.  That way you are two steps closer to financial freedom and self-sufficiency!

Friday, February 25, 2011

1 Month Water Conservation Experiment


I have convinced Mel to try an experiment with me for the next month.  We are pretty conscientious about saving water.  However, the water bill has gone up over the last 2 months.  Perplexing.  There was a recent hike in fees that doesn't help.  I also think it has something to do with the fact that since we are constantly trying to save water, we become lax on monitoring our own use.  Essentially, our showers have gotten longer and we use the dishwasher more often.  Kind of like owning a Prius and using the gas savings to buy a plane ticket for your vacation.  You haven't really reduced your reliance on fossil fuels you have just optimized your use of them.

But optimization, which isn't working since its risen the past two months, isn't what we are after.  We want reduction.  How do you reduce your water supply?  The major users of water is the bathroom, laundry and kitchen.  Let's just tackle the kitchen for now.

We use the rinse water from vegetables to water our garden.  We have installed a low flow faucet head.  We even fill the dogs big-ass water container as we wait for the water to heat up.  The major problem is the dishwasher.  I have never owned one until I moved out here to California.  Since college, except for a 6 month stay in Rhode Island, I have been hand washing my dishes.  I hand washed in my first house.  I hand washed in Italy.  What a creation of convenience!  And utterly a water waster.

I am sure that there are energy saver, low flow devices out there.  You could even hook it up to a grey water system to water plants outside.  But, its very nature makes you want to fill it up before you run it.  Since dishes apparently only come in sets of 4 or more there are ample amounts of dishes to fill it up with.

The plan is to only have 1 plate, 1 bowl, 1 glass, 1 mug, 1 fork, 1 spoon, 1 knife, and 1 water bottle.  Actually those are really the only things that we stick in the dishwasher.  Pots and pans get hand washed.  So do the kitchen knives and wooden spoons.  Even the our mixer and bread pans get hand washed.

Because we own so many dishes,  do we use them partly because they are there and partly to fill up the dishwasher?  If we only had one set of dishes - 1 for each of us - would we even need the dishwasher?  I have this idea that it will actually save us time by only having the one set each.  But actually trying to figure that out goes down a mathematical rabbit hole. 

Predictions:
It should drive down our water use and therefore the bill.
It should drive down our electric bill as well.
It will save time?

I'm also hoping that it creates reverence for those things we take for granted each day.  The amount of water used, the time it takes to wash dishes, and the dishes themselves.  We'll see.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is Wisconsin a glimpse of America's future?

Is Wisconsin a glimpse of America's future?  However you wish to fall on the sides of the happenings in Wisconsin the fact remains.  The Governor is trying to get rid of public employee's rights to collective bargaining.  This, in essence, is the strength of a union and without it, the union is essentially a paper tiger.

Why would getting rid of unions in the public realms make sense?  We have to look at the private sector for that answer.  In the late 70's unions were reaching the zenith of their power.  This coincidentally is also the last time that wages kept up proportionately to economic growth.  During the fabled prosperity of the Reagan years, business deregulation, union busting, and outsourcing led to the significant downfall of union power in the private sector.  The reason for doing this was to keep labor low.

In business, simply put,  you have inputs and outputs. By keeping your inputs lower than your outputs you can earn a profit.  Operating costs, labor, raw materials, and transportation of goods to a market are essentially the main inputs (operating costs tend to include energy, licensing, leases, inspection fees, etc. - "the costs of doing business").  The product is the output.  In the global economy it has become very easy for a business to move their operations overseas where they enjoy low labor costs, low costs of natural resources, and low operating costs through government incentives.  Cheap transportation via cheap fossil fuels allow this separation between inputs and outputs.  Because the product must be shipped to another location where the affluence of that population creates a market for the product.

But doesn't suppressing wages while still increasing production create a catch 22 for businesses?  Yes it does.  This is why in the 90's we saw the take off of credit companies.  Here in the United States, wages haven't significantly increased to keep up with the economic production.  Yet to keep a nation of consumers consuming to continue the sacred GDP increase annually, businesses had to allow consumers to borrow on credit.  Essentially borrowing against future wages.   Wages which are all ready so low that  a person, paying the minimum monthly payment, will be paying for the rest of their lives.  Which is actually a great idea.  Why spend the effort to get you to go shopping to earn money when a guaranteed monthly cash flow can be had?

The global economy isn't as big as it's made out to be and its getting smaller every day.  It is no secret that oil will run out one day.  Well, its no secret except to us consumers.  Governments and businesses know this.  Once cheap fossil fuel is no longer cheap then outsourcing no longer becomes as profitable.  If the costs of transporting my product increase then I have to (a) increase the cost of my product, (b) drive down the costs of my inputs, (c) stop transporting my product so far, or (d) all of the above.  As transportation costs sky rocket we will see the end of outsourcing for manufacturing.  We'll also see a rise in product costs and probably the increase in credit companies in 3rd World Nations.  

So this means more jobs here at home.  Good.  Well not if they come about as is (potentially) happening in Wisconsin.  Which makes this idea so diabolical.  Instead of reducing the labor cost outright they reduced the operating costs through tax incentives and other various political outlays to the businesses.  This reduction in taxes has to be made up somewhere.  That somewhere is in the paychecks of public employees and in the cutting of services for the citizens of the state.  Over time, when production far outpaces wages, this will have the net effect of reducing labor costs as well.  Eventually, the public pensions and health care benefits will be no better then the private sectors and then businesses will have their pick of employees.  So getting rid of unions in the public sector will allow businesses to lower their operating costs through tax incentives and other political policy and then the tab is picked up by the public employees.  This way lawmakers don't have to increase the taxes on the entire populace incurring the people's wrath come election time.  Well for now that is.

There is a way out of this.  Yet it requires each and everyone one of us to be vigilant.  We have reached a state of "Unconscious Competence" when it comes to living.  Living for us is so easy that it's like driving to work and wondering how you got there.  Unconscious Competence is good for things like CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and instances in crisis which require you to act and not think.  We need to take a step back in our competence.  We need to be "Conscious Competent" because we need to think about how we are living our lives.  We need to think about the world we are leaving to our kids.  What kind of life are we living that requires no thought on our own?

So is Wisconsin a glimpse of America's future?  I hope not.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wisconsin - A mixed bag

I am at once happy and frustrated with what is happening in Wisconsin.  The fact that the citizens are at the state house protesting is amazing.  That is the level of participation in our government that we should all show.  Them carrying signs calling the Governor Hitler and using words like rape and kill is uncalled for.  Such displays of ignorance disintegrates their position.

The fact they feel a since of solidarity with the Egyptian people and took a cue from them is pretty exciting.  At least it shows that people in Wisconsin are paying attention to world events.  Allegations that the DNC set this up is kind of rubbing me the wrong way.  We shouldn't be parodying what happened in Egypt as a cheap political stunt for one party to gain the advantage.

I'm perplexed by the absence of the Democratic Senators as well.  Their disappearance prevents the Gov. from pushing through the vote in his favor.  Yet it seems wrong to just run away from your job.

The bottom line is that losing their ability to collectively bargain is just the beginning to a situation where the workers will be placed in a position that has no options.  Effectively, having to take whatever is given to them if they want the job.  Eroding away benefits of employees in a recession isn't how we build up the economy.

44 states and the District of Columbia have budget shortfalls this year totaling $125 billion.  How much was that bailout to the banks on Wall St?  Now I don't want to bailout the states anymore than I wanted to bailout the banks.  But aren't the states more deserving than the banks?  Aren't the states "too big to fail?"  Apparently not.

However, cutting state employee benefits to help make up budget shortfalls seems to be the answer for most states.  Shutting down state parks = open spaces for all, and stopping fire and rescue along with social services like libraries have become the norm.  Where was that option when we were talking about the banks?  That bus has left station and there is nothing we can do about it.  But we can stop this absolute dissolution of employee rights.

As for Wisconsin, I'm there in spirit - just lose the hate mongering signs and rhetoric.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What we can learn from Egypt

History has been made!  I can't help but feel excited for the people of Egypt.  18 days of non-violent (mostly) peaceful protests has toppled 30 years of dictatorial rule.  This is truly an amazing event.  Gandhi in South Africa then India, Dr Martin Luther King Jr in our own country and now the citizens of Egypt.  I think we have just seen some of the best of the human spirit.  


There is no doubt that non-violence is the most legitimate form of protest.  Any possible opposition that tries to use force to quell a non-violent protest makes that opposition automatically illegitimate.  But had the world not been watching things may have been different.  If Egypt wasn't affected by the opinions of the international community the citizens of Egypt may have not had the chance.   Burma is a good example of a country whose leadership does not rely on international opinion and therefore the Military Junta can quell any form of protest without reprisal.  So for non-violence to work their needs to be avenues for the international community to participate.  Truly showing how small the world is.  


Yet that isn't the only thing Egypt has taught us.  I can't help but think of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona where so many were killed and injured.  These thoughts quickly turn to all the school shootings that have happened in the past, Oklahoma City Bombings, Ted Kaczynski, and of course 9-11 and the subsequent wars spawned.  But I want to keep the focus on our domestic incidents.  Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary, said the other day, "The threat continues to evolve. And in some ways, the threat today may be at its most heightened state since the attacks nearly ten years ago." [1]  She was talking about the idea of a homegrown threat; American citizens being recruited to conduct terrorist acts.


There is a connection, at least one that I see.  It is of a citizenship slowly being cast to the side and being left out.  Left out of the "American Dream", being left out of the political process, being left out of living in this country.  Every aspect of our culture is cultivating stratification.  It's not just the usual suspects of economic and social classes, though they play a hand, but a stratification of those who run things and those who don't.   


I don't think that anyone would argue that poverty, famine, oppressive regimes, corruption, social neglect, rampant disease, destruction of natural resources, perversion of clean air and the absence of potable water is a pretty good list to describe a failed state.  It's these failed states that give rise to the disenfranchised youth.  Evil people who only want personal gain seize upon this disenfranchisement and channel it into anger and hate.  Then unleash that anger and hate on anything that seems a threat to their personal power.  This is basically the recipe for the terrorism that we are experiencing today.


Yet in Egypt the youth were disenfranchised.  They couldn't find employment and I'm not talking about just this year or the next but for decades.  They weren't included in the political process.  The government was being run by an oppressive regime.  The government was catering to the business elite through corrupt deals.  The Egyptian youth had everything there to take a totally different path.  What is so amazing is the restraint and wisdom shown by the people of Egypt.  


Back to our own domestic problems and what we can learn from the Egyptian people.  I want you to re-read my list of a failed state.  This time think about our poor - how private health care bankrupts our citizens or how our elderly have to live like 2nd class citizens to afford their care.  Look at the corruption in our own government.  All the little extras attached to bills to get them passed.  Just yesterday the House had a panel, mainly made up of business leaders, to discuss how government is hampering business.  Not to mention that they tried to repeal the Health Care Reform.  Look at how the banks nearly bankrupted this country and nothing has been done.  In a couple more years it'll be business as usual.  Obesity runs rampant in our society with diet related diseases topping most of our medical needs. How the Supreme Court just ruled corporations have no limit to how much money they can give to political campaigns because a corporation has the same Constitutional rights as a human being.  Look at the stratification of the rich to poor with eradication of the middle class.  Our environment is being trashed - Gulf of Mexico?  Most of our drinking water is contaminated with agricultural or industrial waste/runoff.  


Scary isn't it that we, as a 1st World Nation, have so many similarities to a 3rd World Failed State?  The point is that I think we are at a cross roads where we have the ability to come together and show the wisdom that the Egyptian people have shown the world.  Or we risk disenfranchising more of our citizens.  I don't condone violence nor do I excuse it on any level.  What I am saying is that the problems we are facing as a nation will take each and every one of its citizens to fix it.  It won't be fixed in the back rooms of Congress.  It won't even be fixed in the halls of Congress without real debate and discussion by each of us.  And I mean each and everyone of US.  We need to have dialogue that includes people not based on their ability to pay for campaigns but is based on their citizenship.  Because what Egypt has really shown the world is that when we come together, and stand together we can change the world for the better.  







[1]  Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/special-report/transcript/administrations-response-homeland-security-threats#ixzz1DhmcHKEv

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 5: La Jolla Shores (Again) and Wetsuits

I just cannot get used to it.  The coldness of the water.  I anticipate it's sharp shock when the soles of my feet touch the dampened, soft sand.  Between the hard, drained sand that barely leaves a footprint and water.  Sometimes the water rushes to greet me.  This makes the ordeal go quickly.  Other days it pulls away.  The many rivulets draw across my feet and toes slowly.  Causing the shock to last longer.

Of course I have a wetsuit.  Its rated at 3/2.  This means that my core and legs are protected by three millimeters of neoprene while my arms are protected by two.  This is a simple explanation.  It actually is based on the cut.  Its usually thinner where you need movement and thicker where you don't.  So even my arms have three mils of protection on some spots.

I could get a thicker wetsuit.  But a 3/2 is considered a year round suit for SoCal.  When I first went surfing I wore my diving 5 mil suit.  I was warm but the suits are cut differently.  A diving wetsuit isn't made for paddling.  My arms were so tired that day.  I used that suit for a week before I bought a surfing wetsuit.  The first time I tried to paddle in my suit it felt like someone had released wound up rubber bands in my shoulders.  I took off slapping ferociously at the water.

The thing with wetsuits is they have to get wet before they keep you warm.  There is a layer of water trapped between you and the inside of your suit.  Over time your body heat will warm that water to an extent.  I remember being amazed when I learned in physics that there is no such thing as cold.  Only the absence of heat.  Heat moves from high concentrations to low.  So technically mom was right when she yelled for keeping the fridge door open.  The trapped layer of water is caught in a struggle of trying to warm you and the ocean.  After about 45 minutes you start to lose out.

But you still have to get that first bit of water in there.  Wading out the water gets deeper.  The ankle bone is connected to the knee bone.  The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone.  If luck is with you, you get past the impact zone unscathed.  The point where the waves break.  If not then getting that first bit of water is automatic.  When the day's luck is with me it usually happens as I'm paddling and a wave is building.  We are playing a game of chicken which I will lose.  If, and this is a big if, you catch it right the wave will pull you up it's face and over the crest.  Rather it just moves under you.  But you need to do a little push up on your board.  This allows the crest to move between you and the board.  Otherwise the crest will grab you and pull you down.   It's this moment.  The moment the crest passes between me and my board.  That I actually go through the crest.  The water flows beautifully in line with my spine.  I just cannot get used to it.

Notes:  Wetsuits come in multiple thicknesses.  If it has only one number then it means it is that thickness all over.  Otherwise the two numbers means it is some sort of blend.  A wetsuit should fit snuggly but shouldn't cut off circulation.  Make sure you always try on your wetsuit before you buy it. Getting the thing off is difficult but you shouldn't feel ready to gnaw off a limb to get out of it.  Late spring is a great time to get deals on wetsuits as a lot of surfers only wears boardshorts in the summer. 






Monday, February 7, 2011

For every new follower of the blog I will sponsor a tree

One of the newsletters I get, Green Living Tips by Michael Bloch, has this thing where he will sponsor a tree for every new subscription.  Its a free to subscribe.

I thought this was a great idea and wanted to do the same.  So for every new "follower" (see the right hand column of the blog) I will sponsor a tree.

Follow me and subscribe to his newsletter and you get 2 trees planted! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 4: La Jolla Shores and the Zen of a Bad Haircut

The only thing worse than a bad haircut is waiting an hour to get that bad haircut.  Thankfully I am happily appreciated in my own relationship but if I weren't I surely would date the woman who cut my hair for her extremely generous interpretation of how long 1/2 inch is.  In my world 1/2 inch would have brought my hair to my eyebrows.  Here's her interpretation. 
Angry face


What do you do with a bad haircut?  I was shocked in the store but by the time I was wishing it longer in my visor mirror I was fuming.  I mean I was going to burst.  "A 1/2 inch off the top is what I said!"

So I did the only thing I could do.  I drove off with my Hitler youth haircut and went to La Jolla Shores.  


This is where I learned to surf.  So this place holds a special place in my heart.  It has a great beach break that produces gentle swells.  Sometimes you get really good waves here but most of the time its not really anything to write home about.  This is where I take everyone to show them how to get started.

There were some sets that actually were well overhead and I was getting thumped by them.  I was just off.  I was so darn mad about this haircut.  But what can you do?  Nothing you just got to let it grow back.  What is done is done.  And with that calm approach and clear head I still got thumped. 

So moral of the story is:  A bad haircut sucks and while you might look like a Hitler youth now in two weeks you'll look like Eminem.   Oh, and surfing makes you feel better.




Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 3 of Surfpocalypse - Cardiff Reef & Maple Frosted Donuts



We started off the day at Tierra Miguel Farm doing a little farm work.  We left at noon and headed over to Cardiff on the Sea to do some surfing.  So this is my favorite place to surf (so far).  Not only does it have great waves but it has VG Donuts - the best darn donuts on the West Coast.  Thanks to my buddy Ben for showing us that spot.  Ben you rock!

Here's how we normally work it.  Get up there early - 7ish - and surf for an hour or two, dry off, and go get fresh donuts and coffee.  Sublime!  The last time Mel and I where there we were with my buddies Jon and Chris back in July.  Come to think of it that was my birthday weekend.  Jon and Chris are both ole Navy buddies and Jon is my "let's try and climb Mt Whitney in waist deep snow the past two years in a row" buddy as well.  Chris is currently getting his PhD in Economics so we never see him anymore.  Legend has it he surfs everyday up in Newport Beach.

So we all arrive early and we're loving the waves.  Everyone had a great time.  As we are getting ready to leave, literally walking into shore to leave and go get donuts, Chris gets stung by a stingray in his ankle.  The poor guy is bleeding everywhere.  Mel runs down the beach 1/2 mile to the lifeguard shack, Jon runs up the stairs up the cliff to get the 1st aid kit from his truck, and I run to the water to get a piece of kelp to put over the wound.

"I'm not putting that crap on my foot." Chris says

So the only other thing I have is the ankle cuff to my leash off my 7'-1" yellow board I affectionately call "the banana".  Side note:  My 6'-3" board is called the "potato chip" and my 8'-5" board is called the "cadillac".  I still haven't used the banana till this day because that leash is still dirty!   In awkward situations I tend to go with humor but poor Chris wanted to punch me so in a way it worked.  Long, boring wait in the hospital story made short - we had to wait till after the hospital to get our donut fix and by the time we got there almost everything was gone.

Why did I tell you that story?  Because it was the rational behind what we did.  We decided in the case that one of us (me) got stung by a stingray we should go and get donuts first.  And to somewhat hold to tradition we should get enough to have after we surf too.  I have to tell you the Maple frosted donuts are incredible.  I was going to go back in before we left to get more but Mel made me drive away.  I seriously think I would shank someone for the last maple frosted donut.  As it is Mel and I are in negotiations right now for the last half of her maple frosted donut.  Its costing me a whole chocolate frosted donut.

Cardiff Reef is spectacular.  You have to walk down these rickety-ass, wooden stairs.  Once you are on the beach you have to look up the cliffs to see where you came from.  Its beautiful till you have to walk back up those stairs.  Definitely an iconic surfing spot when I think of California surfing.



I honestly didn't think that Mel was going to get into the water.  She's a fair weather surfer but it must have been my sweet moves in the water that enticed her.  But she braved the cold water and caught quite a few nice breaks.  She rides a 6'-9" (no name!) but covets the cadillac.  So I tend to give it to her and I take her no name and try to surf it.  I still haven't transitioned down to the shorter boards so my fat butt tends to sink them.  But I was dropping in and half-ass standing up.  There's always tomorrow to get it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

“Making Our Future Win-Lose”


The future is ours to win.” [1] I imagined that Stephen Covey winced at the President's words. This is a clear violation of Habit #4 in the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Synopsis: Genuinely striving for mutually beneficial
solutions or agreements in your relationships. Valuing
and respecting people by understanding a "win" for all is
ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one
person in the situation had gotten his way.” [2]

Certainly our President is a highly effective person. Certainly we want to be a nation of highly effective people. So why are we starting from a premise of winners and losers? “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.” [1] This mentality means that for America to win somewhere else people have to lose. Who will have to lose next? Who is after Iraq and Afghanistan? We are 5% of the world's population but we consume 25% of the world's resources. How much more can we take?

Al Qaeda is evidence of what happens when a populace is relegated to the losing side. A population that is grossly under educated, under fed, impoverished, and downtrodden is a seed bed for the kind of fanatics that terrorists are. Just look at how Hitler took power and you'll see some scary resemblances.

“We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook.” [1] Is this truly how we want to be seen by the world? A country that is simply driven by production and reliant on sales. “We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business.” [1] Apparently so.

The President opened the speech with,

Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever
known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate
profits are up. The economy is growing again. But we have
never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We
measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs
they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer.”[1]

Though I disagree with the way he sees us measuring progress (GDP anyone?) I agree that progress should be measured by the success of our people. But not at the cost of others. So I disagree with this idea that “the future is ours to win.”[1] Don't get me wrong, I found many things to cheer about in his speech.

The President is correct we have to tackle our national debt. It is over $14 trillion and growing. [3] Restructuring the government is a great start. Freezing domestic spending for the next 5 years is a great start. But let's get real about the tens of billions of dollars that the Department of Defense is cutting. It's not even going to make a drop in the bucket. The 2010 DOD budget was over 600 billion dollars. This means if we completely cut the Defense budget to $0 and directed all that money to the debt we could pay off the debt in 20 – 30 years. Kind of like our own national mortgage. Yet there is no way we are going cut Defense completely out. If we only took half of that budget it would take us between 40-50 years. But with half the DOD budget and the savings from capping domestic spending (till the debt is paid off please!) and the idea of restructuring the government, we might just pay-off that national mortgage in 20-30 years.

Simplifying the tax code. Yes please! I'm all for lessening some taxes for corporations if the product they are producing is of value, and their operations directly provide benefits to the community they are in. This isn't to be confused with “free lunch” concessions some states make to attract businesses by shifting all the tax responsibilities on the citizens of that community. By all means come start a business and enjoy fair tax rates. But you better come ready to be a part of the community and ready to bare your portion of the community's tax burdens.

This leads to another quite sticky issue. I'm just as guilty of trying to find every single legal way out of paying my taxes that there is possible. Nearly half of Americans didn't pay federal income tax in 2009? That's incredible. I hate income taxes. I find them burdensome and debilitating to the American people. I am a huge proponent of a graduated consumption tax. This way everyone pays the amount they want and no one escapes their civic duty to pay taxes. Illegal immigrants and all.

Onto illegal immigration. Yes we need to solve this issue. But creating legislation that effectively creates a semi-police state attitude isn't the way. Nor is hate mongering about said legislation and thinking violence is the answer. Illegal immigrants have been stereotyped into this sect of people who take the low-income jobs and live off welfare. Surely this image has those that live up to it or rather down to it. Which makes you wonder how the “illegal immigrants are taking our jobs argument” holds up. But half of the illegal immigrants in this country are in the middle class range and pay taxes. What? They pay taxes? Yes. It is a reality that you have to have a SSN to get a job in this country. So many of them purchase SSNs and pay taxes for years. Never filing for a tax refund because they don't want to draw attention to themselves. What happens to that money?

Our country needs a viable worker program. It also needs clear and concise ways to apply for citizenship. Making applying for citizenship much more appealing than risking their lives to get into the country. Lastly, we need to look at the reasons (NAFTA and corn subsidies are just a few) why people want to get into the country in the first place. Could it be they're just trying to get on the winning side?

Another issue that is always attached to illegal immigrants is health care. Instead of going down that rabbit hole lets talk about health care for US citizens. The Republicans want to repeal the health care law. Well at the least the insurance companies who got the Republicans the majority in the House want the health care law repealed. The President said he'd be willing to talk to anyone to make the bill better. Mr. President the American people deserve health care free from profit driven motives. We must provide government health care to all our citizens. Maybe it will increase our taxes but I have a feeling if we had a consumption tax that everyone paid, and we cut spending as talked about above, there would be plenty of tax dollars to fund national health care. Besides even if you had to pay an extra $100-200 a month in taxes its still better than the $500 a month most families pay for insurance. At the very least it'd cost the same as the cut-rate insurance that doesn't even pay half the expenses.

So we have a ton of work to do internally. But how does that translate to more jobs and a win-win environment for the US and the rest of the world? By focusing on the green technologies and creating the partnerships with other nations. By getting ourselves out of Iraq and Afghanistan and stop creating worthless wars that kill people and tarnish our morality as a country. By lessening our dependence on oil. But stopping tax dollar subsidies to companies earning record profits and polluting our world. Investing in companies who invest in our communities. We need to invest in education and not allow higher education to be another means of social stratification. We do need to innovate but with the rest of the world. The global financial crisis has shown how interconnected we all are. We can't go it alone in the world any longer and trying to take more of the global pie isn't the answer.

But I can't help feeling that it will all be just rhetoric unless we stand up and hold the President and Congress accountable. In this age where the Supreme Court – unjustly - upheld a corporation's right to free speech thereby allowing corporate campaign contributions, it can feel down right daunting to make a difference. But we can!

There are two fundamental truths. The first truth is there are 3 resources that you have that the world covets. They are (1) your vote, (2) your money, and (3) your capacity to produce money. The second truth is that you control all 3 of those resources. We all need to become more informed and take a stance on something. This national sense of apathy abdicates our control over the government. We need to wrest control of our government back.

Now it’s our turn.” [1] Yes it is Mr. President.


[1] State of the Union Address 2011, Retrieved from Scribd 26 January 2011.
[3] The US National Debt Clock, Retrieved 26 January 2011.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Orangutan Friendly Sustainable Palm Oil Valentine Candy List

Valentine's Day is coming up and whether you support it or not is your decision.  But if you do decide to partake in the event here is a list of candies and sweets from companies who are members of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

http://www.cmzoo.org/docs/palmOilValentineCandy2011.pdf

Remember that each and every one of us can make a difference!  

Who really sent the Republicans?

My initial plan was to list all the new Republican members of Congress and who their biggest contributors were.  But after taking a look at the new members of Congress at OpenSecrets.Org, I’d have to recreate the entire website here.  It is apparent that the Republicans took quite a few seats in Congress this year by the overwhelming number of new Republicans.  However, was the Republican takeover of the House a function of the people’s wants or the wants of the Health Insurance Industry? 

We all know the candidate with the most money usually – not always – wins.  So out of all the issues and policies that were passed in the past 2 years of the Obama Administration how come it was Health Care Reform that the new Republican House wanted to repeal?  Is there a connection to the fact that Insurance Companies, Health Professionals, Pharmaceutical Companies, HMO’s and Financial Institutions were the top contributors to the Republican Party?  More specifically, top contributors to the new first term Republicans? 

Take a look at just a few of the new Republican Congress Members.  I only went through the B’s because frankly there’s too many.

Sandy Adams, R-FL, House
-Health Professionals $47,700

Justin Amash, R-MI, House
-Health Professionals $45,500

Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, Senate
-Securities & Investments $398,086
-Insurance $184,305

Charles Bass, R-NH, House
-Securities & Investments $46,650
-Insurance $38,400

Daniel Benishek, R-MI, House
-Health Professionals $95,550

Diane Lynn Black, R-TN, House
-Health Professionals $78,102
-Hospitals/Nursing Homes $25,600

Mo Brooks, R-AL, House
-Health Professionals $55,200

Larry Bucshon, R-IN, House
-Health Professionals $138,157
-Insurance $28,348

Ann Marie Buerkle, R-NY, House
-Securities & Investments $41,133

Believe me there are many more.  Better yet, don’t believe me and check for yourself.  I included Securities & Investments because Insurance companies tend to be the largest share holders of mutual funds.  So the Securities & Investments industry has a vested interest in seeing private insurance succeed.

Not every Republican got money directly from a Health related industry – though it would have been a heck of a lot easier had I listed them in retrospect.  But all Republicans received money from one of their PACS.  The two largest contributors were the Continuing a Majority Party Action Committee and the Every Republican is Crucial PAC.

Here is listed out the amount given to House and Senate Republicans.  Interesting how the amount given to the Senate is much less then what was given to the House.  Maybe that’s why the Senate is still in the hands of the Democrats?  The list also shows the top industry contributors to each PAC.

Continuing a Majority Party Action Committee :
Gave $547,250 to the House Republicans and $13,000 to Senate Republicans in 2010.
Top contributions by Industry.
Insurance
$100,000

Health Professionals
$92,500

Pharmaceuticals/Health Products
$86,500

Lobbyists
$58,750

Health Services/HMOs
$53,000

Securities & Investment
$48,500


Every Republican is Crucial PAC:
Gave $1, 210,842 to the House Republicans and $30,000 to Senate Republicans in 2010.
Top contributions by Industry.
Securities & Investment
$160,650
Real Estate
$137,000
Insurance
$131,465
Lobbyists
$119,000
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products
$112,350
Tobacco
$94,750
Commercial Banks
$75,750
Health Services/HMOs
$71,700
Health Professionals
$71,554


So I have to wonder did the American People really speak at the last election.  Or did Corporate America through Insurance and Health Care Companies speak?  One thing is quite apparent.  The Republicans have lived up to their word.  They were sent to Washington to repeal the Health Care law and they spent little time getting down to business.  The question now is who sent them?

If you are really interested here is the top 100 contributors to the Continuing a Majority Party Action Committee.

Rank
Contributor
Total
Indivs
PACs
1
Blue Cross/Blue Shield – self explanatory
$16,000
$0
$16,000
2
Altria Group - the No. 1 tobacco company in the world
$15,000
$5,000
$10,000
2
DaVita Inc -  is a leading provider of kidney care in the United States, delivering dialysis services and education to patients with chronic kidney failure and end stage renal disease.
$15,000
$5,000
$10,000
4
Dykema Gossett – Law firm specializing in Insurance, Pharmaceutical and Medical Industries.
$10,250
$250
$10,000
5
Abbott Laboratories – Global Health Care and Medical Research
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
Aetna Inc – self explanatory
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
AFLAC Inc – self explanatory
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
America's Health Insurance Plans – self explanatory
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
American College of Cardiology
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
American Seniors Housing Assn – self explanatory
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
Amgen Inc - Delivers important, cost effective therapeutics based on cellular and molecular biology
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
Eli Lilly & Co - one of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical companies.
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
Investment Co Institute - News and tutorials covering mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETF), closed-end funds (CEF) and unit investment trusts (UIT).
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
Medco Health Solutions - self explanatory
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
Merck & Co - self explanatory
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
National Multi Housing Council
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
Natl Assn Real Estate Investment Trusts
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
Pechanga Band of Mission Indians
$10,000
$10,000
$0
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
5
Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe
$10,000
$10,000
$0
5
$10,000
$0
$10,000
36
American College of Radiology- self explanatory
$9,000
$0
$9,000
37
$8,000
$0
$8,000
37
$8,000
$0
$8,000
37
$8,000
$0
$8,000
40
$7,500
$0
$7,500
40
$7,500
$0
$7,500
40
Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock – A government relations consulting firm – clients include Health Care providers, Insurance companies, medical supply companies
$7,500
$7,500
$0
40
$7,500
$0
$7,500
40
Metlife Inc - self explanatory
$7,500
$0
$7,500
40
$7,500
$0
$7,500
40
Pfizer Inc - is one of the biggest players in what is widely considered the most influential industry in Washington: pharmaceutical manufacturers
$7,500
$0
$7,500
40
$7,500
$0
$7,500
48
DTE Energy
$7,000
$0
$7,000
49
American Express
$6,000
$0
$6,000
49
Deloitte & Touche – Consulting group dealing with accounting
$6,000
$0
$6,000
49
Federal Policy Group – Consulting group dealing with taxes and financial legislation
$6,000
$6,000
$0
52
$5,500
$0
$5,500
53
American Assn of Orthopaedic Surgeons - self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
American Assn of Preferred Providers Org - self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
American College of Emergency Physicians - self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
American Dental Assn - self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
American Hospital Assn- self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
American Physical Therapy Assn - self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
BASF Corp
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
Cardinal Health - Offers drug development services for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
Centra Inc – multiple listing for a health care company or a consulting company.  No direct findings for Centra Inc.
$5,000
$5,000
$0
53
College of American Pathologists - self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
CVS/Caremark Corp – Health Care Company
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
Fidelity Investments – financial services
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
Goldman Sachs – financial services
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
Home Depot
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
1.       Invacare Corp - is the world's leading manufacturer of wheelchairs, bariatric equipment, disability scooters, respiratory products and other homecare products.
$5,000
$4,000
$1,000
53
JPMorgan Chase & Co – financial services
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
McCrery for Congress
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
Miller & Chevalier - Miller & Chevalier’s Employee Benefits and Employment Tax practice offers a full range of consulting, planning, and controversy services to clients facing the challenges of increased audit and regulatory scrutiny in the benefits area. In
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
National Community Pharmacists Assn - self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
National Venture Capital Assn - The National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), comprised of more than 400 member firms, is the premier trade association that represents the U.S. venture capital industry – Members Like Citigroup, JP Morgan, Kaiser Permanente
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
New York Life Insurance - self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
1.      Novartis Corp- Has core businesses in healthcare, agribusiness and consumer health.
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
Renal Leadership Council
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
Rumsey Indian Rancheria
$5,000
$5,000
$0
53
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
UBS Americas - Financial Services
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
US Oncology - self explanatory
$5,000
$0
$5,000
53
Waste Management Inc
$5,000
$0
$5,000
85
BGR Group- is the premier bipartisan government relations, strategic communications, and investment banking firm. Clients include Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and other Health Care providers
$4,500
$4,500
$0
85
Capitol Health Group - self explanatory
$4,500
$4,500
$0
85
$4,500
$0
$4,500
85
Pacific Life Insurance - self explanatory
$4,500
$0
$4,500
85
Williams & Jensen- one of the nation's leading, independently owned government affairs law firms. Clients include Pfizer,
$4,500
$4,500
$0
90
Capitol Tax Partners – consulting firm
$4,000
$4,000
$0
90
Cassidy & Assoc
$4,000
$4,000
$0
90
Dow Chemical
$4,000
$0
$4,000
90
Hearing Industries Assn – association for hearing aid manufacturers.
$4,000
$0
$4,000
90
John Hancock Life Insurance Co - self explanatory
$4,000
$0
$4,000
90
Kidney Care Partners - self explanatory
$4,000
$0
$4,000
90
RailAmerica Inc
$4,000
$0
$4,000
90
Zurich Insurance - self explanatory
$4,000
$0
$4,000
98
Applied Materials Inc
$3,500
$0
$3,500
98
$3,500
$0
$3,500
98
Cigar Assn of America
$3,500
$0
$3,500
98
Delta Airlines
$3,500
$0
$3,500
98
ESOP Assn
$3,500
$0
$3,500
98
Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc – Lobbyist Group
$3,500
$3,500
$0
98
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans – financial services
$3,500
$0
$3,500
98
$3,500
$0
$3,500


Material retrieved from Open Secrets.ORG on 21 January 2011. http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave.php?cmte=C00350462&cycle=2010&recs=100