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Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Aim for Information NOT Confirmation Bias

Seven years ago, about a year before we planned to move from West Virginia to Oregon,  I got deeply involved in helping establish The Wild Ramp, an indoor year-round local food market. Among other things, I visited the farms and other food producers basically to get their stories to tell consumers, but also to verify that they were raising or producing the yummies they brought to sell at the store.

For a person who grew up in the paved part of the Garden State and one who earned a degree in urban planning, finding myself knee deep in mud was one of my earliest experiences and I immediately bought muck boots for later farm visits. I am a quick learner…at least in some issues. 2014-10-07 10.48.42

I believe the first farmer’s patience with me and my questions helped establish my process: I spent an hour asking questions sitting usually at the kitchen table, and only then did we walk the farm and I got to see and take photos.

Because I knew next to NOTHING about farming (other than going with my grandpa into his chicken coop when I was 3-years-old was a terrifying experience which he sure could have made easier!) I asked tons of questions. I may not know a lot but I am curious.

“What’s the issue about corn fed versus grass fed” was a question. “What kind of cows are these?” was another. (The answer to that was also enlightening: “Well, ” the farmer slowly answered, “they’re black.  Angus are black, so I guess we can say they are Angus.” And my response: “So ARE they Angus, or are you riding a marketing message?” was answered with a smile.

So I learned something there and I later learned that perhaps it is not always just the breed but also the diet that helps make some meat tastier than others.

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The point is, I was not afraid to appear that I did not “KNOW”. In other words, it was okay for them to figure I was ignorant and it was their job to teach me. And almost all of the 70 farmers and food producers I visited were happy to give me the two precious hours of their work day. The later sales jump after the blog was written and read by the consumers was worth the work interruption.

So last night I again watched the debates. And I will watch the 2nd debate with the rest of the Democratic candidates tonight. WHY?

Because I am not going to rely on what news organizations chose to tell me. I am not going to read my Facebook friends’ comments as a basis for my own decision-making. I do find comments by people I know and even people I have no idea what their background basis is for their comment. This is our reality: people have various levels of evaluation tools and their decision making may or may not be similar to mine.

When I read restaurant reviews when I am searching for a place to eat in a location I have not fully explored, I have no idea if those reviewers’ taste buds are similar to mine. I have no idea if they value food without additives, as I do.  Same kind of issue when I hear how people love or pan a movie. How can I know if any person making a comment is aligned with my values on what entertains me?

Even more important is the much more rigorous and important evaluation for the next President of the United States.  A crummy meal or movie may, at worse, provide a wasted couple of hours or a tummy ache, but typically not more than that. Playing passive on the evaluation of candidates can provide for poor leadership that will affect me…and you…and the world.

So, it’s all theater. I made a comment on Facebook as the debate started that the narrator sounded like he was introducing a sport event. But this is NOT the time we chose one winner and all the rest are losers.

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Source: Apple Podcasts

Each person standing on that podium last night had something that was important to be heard. Each one.  How would you know if you don’t put your own mind to work?

Do I think they are all equivalently experienced for the job of President. Hell no! But they have their viewpoint and it may overlap someone else’s, including your own.

Let’s be careful not to throw support to one candidate so early that we don’t listen. Let’s be careful to listen and evaluate how we feel about the various solutions to issues posed.

And let’s remember that the way the government is working now will not change much without some huge changes that are, unfortunately, needed to be made by the people who currently would not want them changed.  For example, we have clearly seen the damage to the election process that the Supreme Court decision about Citizens United caused.  By permitting money to be equivalent to free speech, and corporations defined as “people”, we have seen that our government is now being controlled by megawealthy corporations and people. Very few people. And the rest of us, working (or not) to make the changes have a tough uphill battle. How can that be changed to give the governing of this nation back to the people? Listen to how the candidates suggest changes and see if they align with you.

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Source: UMass Dartmouth

Above all, quit sitting back and only using your voice to armchair quarterback. Get out there. Locally, you can have some huge influence in the way your city or county runs.  On the national level, if you like a candidate, get involved. Give an hour a week…..that certainly is not too much of a drain when you think of what gets decided that will affect you.

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Source: Waupaca Rotary Club

 

 

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I’ve Always Wondered

I’ve always wondered how people going through an upheaval actually emotionally dealt with the hardship of seeing their world as they knew it collapse and assume there was nothing they could do but hold on and ride the waves.

Sort of how it feels now.

  • We have two unstable national leaders playing a game of chicken.
  • We have a Congress that seems to forget who put them there.
  • We have a series of natural events coming fast and furious with hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires needing attention.
  • We have a huge segment of our population who is hiding as much as they can, not earning a living, because they are on a list to be removed and sent away.
  • We have Germany perhaps having their first elected fascists since the destruction of the Third Reich coming this weekend.
  • We have Britain’s Prime Minister trying to delay the departure from the European Union because since the vote more people know its a bad idea.
  • We have the US involved in wars We the People know little about.
  • We have military veterans coming home in emotional states that clearly show that war is hell and they were not prepared for it.
  • We have a segment of our population who seem to think they are above average while they line up with the rest of the sheep to support the 1%.
  • We have two major political parties that are dysfunctional and do not remember that this nation’s Constitution begins with We The People.

I could go on and on.

So, I have always loved to read and reading fictionalized or nonfiction accounts of how individuals live through a major crisis has given me concepts to consider.

  • The Scout motto, Be Prepared, makes sense. Have skills and equipment that will help survival opportunities improve.
    • While Preppers may have the message right, it seems difficult to store 3 or more months of food, water and other supplies.  Many of us can at least have a supply of food for two weeks in our homes. I know many people who don’t keep a “pantry” with some staples. Time to wake up, everyone. It does not take a war to have an emergency when stores will not be supplied with your favorite treats. All it takes is a storm and a loss of electricity. A highway blocked. A bridge too unsafe to cross.
    • Start thinking NOW about how you will prepare food if there is no power.
    • Make sure you also store water, toilet paper, medicines, and first aid supplies.
    • I don’t need to tell you to store your weapon and ammo, but people, remember safety especially if there are children around.
    • And, by the way, your lack of preparedness does not make killing me or anyone else to get to our food and supplies an ethical or moral right. The time to think about protecting yourself and your loved ones is now. And might does not equal right.
  • Build a network of people you can trust. These are people who have complementary skills and common goals.
    • So many people have no close friends and are estranged from their families because of emotional battles that may truly be pretty insignificant if you thought about it dispassionately. Time to try to heal those wounds.
    • While many people disdain the concept of church, it does provide for an extended “family”. If you are not involved in some kind of organization or activity with other community members, it is past time. No man is an island
  • As the Governors of several states have recently done during hurricanes, martial law most likely will be imposed.
    • Recognize that the Internet and our cell phones most likely will stop Communication will have to resort to meeting with people face to face and talking.
    • ATMs will not be accessible and banks will be closed. Money will not be the currency of trade.
    • Most likely there will be  restrictions on movement. Gas will be in short supply and expensive.

Now, I sure hope saner heads will prevail in this building concern with North Korea. We will not do well with a nuclear war.

I hope We The People have a better memory in the next election and actually participate and vote to remove Congressional representatives who fail at their job. No one should be returned to office who has not demonstrated their responsiveness to their constituents.

I hope anyone in places where there can be warning of a coming devastation like a wildfire or a hurricane can calmly and safely get their loved ones to safety. As hard as it is to lose “everything”, no matter how precious they are, they are THINGS. You can rebuild.

I hope people in places where devastation has occurred can remember they are part of the Family Of Man and will open their homes to provide shelter and sustenance to people who have lost everything.

I hope you feel compelled to speak to your morals and ethics when others are showing their fear in hatred to a minority. When we remain silent, perhaps out of fear that we will also be attacked, we condone the attack.

I hope you know first hand how cooperating with others may not bring you the riches you dream of, but allows you “enough” as well as the ability to understand we each need “enough”.

 

I pray that any loved one serving in the military comes home safe and sound, and if not, you stay patient to give them the succor they require. As difficult as it is to lose the someone you knew to a altered person, love can help bring them around. A sense of trust and safety can provide the way.

I urge you to start digging a bit deeper for information that shapes your opinions. So many of us do NOT read across the spectrum nor any news sources from overseas, but those are the only ways you can know if the information you are being fed is accurate. Also, if what you are reading is using inflammatory language, if the article tells you what to think, it is an editorial, not a news article. News articles must explain who, what, why, where and how and leave you thinking.

As for the political parties, the ONLY way we can gain change is for everyone to get involved. Simple. And please realize that the place your voice REALLY counts is on the local level. You want to see changes, get involved in your town.

 

 

 

 

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Getting Dirty in the Gutter

So now we have Presidential candidates comparing hand sizes as an indication of how large their dicks are? What? To put it mildly, if a bit crudely, they are total schmucks. We should not be surprised.schmuck

What had surprised me initially but now I have fallen to a state of dismay, is how many of my fellow citizens are so titillated by this entertainment they do not seem to remember that this contest is not for the biggest jerk in the country but for our President and representative to the rest of the world.  When people say they support Trump because he tells it like it is, it is easy to remind them that they no longer speak to family members who have done the same thing for years. Why is speaking crudely an asset?

As more and more people climb on the Trump bandwagon I am still amazed at those that ignore the fact he has talked about how beautiful his daughter’s body is and he would “date” her….in other words, incest. I am amazed that the photos of his wife with her surgically enhanced breasts exhibited for all of us to see is not a matter of concern over the slutty nature of the woman who could become our First Lady but a gut reaction from men who drool over sexy broads. I would expect the constituency who cuts funding for women’s health clinics and does not want to teach sexual education to kids before their hormones lead them into activities with consequences, that that group of people would be making SOME comment about concern for the gutter level of the Trumps.  (I think this is the same group that scorns the dress code of Muslim women to cover their head or even their entire body.)

But now, we have people who are not really thinking. Maybe this is a horribly true reflection of our education system which teaches for the test and not for the ability to reason. I suppose if you vote for the winner of a Presidential election you might think you won.  You might think you passed the test. But in reality, you may have failed at an important life decision and the consequences of that support may really come back to bite you.

We need to look at those consequences.

For all of you who support Republican candidates who want to bomb the Middle East  because of fear of terrorism, take a moment to think it through. No one seems to take a minute to think who might not like that idea, besides all the innocent people who live there. (I suspect many people here don’t care about them anyway, back to the prior adage that the only dead (fill in the blank) is a dead one.)  But, no one is thinking that if we unleash the bombs, so might anyone else who dislikes us. No one is thinking about how WWIII will start.

For all of you who hate abortion, cutting off access to a legal procedure is not the right choice. Abortions have been going on for millennium. Backstreet procedures have ended up maiming and killing many women. Supporting a candidate who says he will stop all legal abortions is supporting someone who says they will change the law.  You might support that, but realize you are about to kill your sisters. You can start counting dead bodies of adults, I suppose. hanger

For all of you who hate people being on welfare and want to cut programs but look the other way when you notice the homeless in your town, be aware the problem will get worse.  People who say we should have smaller government are usually not active in their communities to work social programs. If we are not going to work on this on a local level, each one of us, then we need some help and that is why the federal government stepped in.

COMPLAINFor all of you who want change but never get off your butts to help make that possible, your comments are not helpful.  Your actions show you really don’t care. You just want what YOU want and are little different from anyone else in that regard. Only if you help work it so the least of us can get more comfortable living and eating and working situation, your bitching and moaning does nothing to help.

For all of you who just buy another gun so you will be ready to join the fight, what are you fighting for? If you think you are going to protect your family, if your mottos include “out of my cold dead hands” then you are not working to building a nation for all of us, but part of what will tear us apart.

For all of you who want the illegals to go back home, go work in the farm fields for a season.  Hell, work for a week…if you can handle the physical activity. And then live on only what you earned. And please, think back to your own family history and try to really understand the motivation for those ancestors who were willing to leave all that they knew in search of a better life. If your family does not know its history, perhaps it’s because there is something particularly unpleasant they were trying to forget. Or something that did not include an element of pride?  But if you can not find the feeling within you to understand why people come here now, you are not reaching into your soul deeply.nationalities_ethnicities_citizenships

One thing is abundantly clear. Over the past 7 years this nation has been whipped into divisions.  Back in 2007 Obama was elected by most of us in the hope of “change”. His slogan, Be the Change you want to see obviously fell on deaf ears. I think people sat back expecting improvement and their choice of talking heads lead them to believe things like medical coverage for all is a horrible idea. Their choice of talking heads lead them to think things should have been fixed in the first year. Their choice of talking heads has helped them forget what caused the issues President Obama had to deal with.

Who benefits if we are divided? Do you know…or care?  If you don;t, you probably are continuing to support their goal. Is that your goal?

So now, we have a clown show and the world is laughing. For all of you conservatives who believe that President Obama degraded America’s world image, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Worse, you will be contributing to it if you elect Trump or Cruz or Rubio. None are the leadership we need on a world stage let alone to bring our domestic situation to a healthier state.  Several nations are considering banning Trump from ever visiting. From Mexico to Great Britain these are early warning signs that a Trump Presidency will not be respected by the world.Trump pnata

We have had a few great Presidents, many of whom were not very popular during their time in office because of the programs they started that affected people in power to help others.  And we have had some that introduced programs that hurt many people living in this nation. Most Presidents were in the middle, not great statesmen but people who tried to at least do no damage.effective leadership

This election we have choices to elect a person with strong ideas of what is right for this nation. So many are out of touch with what we, the people, really deal with. Oh, they learn snippets from those of us who shout the loudest and have a crowd following. But we, the people need to look at the whole picture not just our favorite issue. Who can lead us in our nation and in the world to bring us together in peace and prosperity? Think people…..use the space between your ears, not just your gut reactions. This is important. There are consequences.

 


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Passion WITH Thinking

What’s your passion? What gets you fired up enough to get involved?

Me? I have several now. Have had many over my life, but right now there are two that capture my attention.

Awareness of our food and how full of chemicals much of it is and unhealthy results of conventional farming practices can affect health. I learned this only 5 years ago and I am a strong advocate to Know Your Farmer. By eating locally you not only can chose food sourced at places where you support the growing practice, but by supporting a local farmer, you are contributing to a healthier local economy.


But right now, it appears the Presidential campaign season has started and is full swing. Like Christmas advertising that starts the day after Halloween, we Americans are in for lots and lots and lots and lots and lots (ad nauseum) of campaign propaganda. Get ready for the roller coaster for the next 15 months.Donkey_Elephant_Boxing_article

My political leaning is liberal but I read a lot of information from and about all the candidates. I want to know as much as I can about each of them in the hope that any discussion will be intelligent.

I ran into a problem already though. One friend of mine took me to task because he felt I had made a negative comment about Donald Trump and was concerned I was going to get nasty in loading Facebook with negatives. whyattackadswork

The issue I made was that when the two (expletive deleted) guys beat up the homeless Latino man and attributed their actions to Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants being bad, I reported what Trump’s comment was. And I offered one question.

As you probably know, all Trump had to say at the time was “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.”

My comment was “No words about this action being wrong. No concern about the victim. Is this the kind of leadership our country needs?” My friend felt this was negative commenting on my part. I do not think so. I hope to make people think, not just have a emotional reaction.   I do not think what I pointed out is bashing Trump. Bashing him would be saying he is an idiot. He’s clearly not an idiot. He just is not a man who considers all he needs to before opening his mouth.

Now I see several days after his comments, Trump has added “Boston incident is terrible. We need energy and passion, but we must treat each other with respect,” and “I would never condone violence.”

So NOW, after he gets backlash, he has changed his statement to one of more concern.  This is the kind of action I have seen from Trump over the last month. He says a lot of things that have to be later amended. I think this is the way he is and I for one do not want him to be our nation’s leader. thinking clearly

But my point is NOT to point out concern about one candidate. Each gets equal treatment. If I see something that is inconsistent with helping the people of this nation, it needs to be considered.

Some people chose their Presidential candidate based on one issue and one issue alone. Women who claim they are Pro-Life thereby support candidates that are anti abortion without any consideration of other issues of health care, education programs, and job opportunities for the people who are not earning a living wage. Very narrowly defining what is right hides a lot of what is wrong.think abotu results

Passion is great but it has to be able to expand to include all the influences to that issue. Just like I believe the problems in the food system relate to environmental concerns and thereby lend my support to movements to educate how fracking ruins our water supply, how coal mining and the toxic residue of its waste affects the land so things can no longer grow so areas like the coal counties in West Virginia need economic redevelopment, how not teaching our children methods of problem solving and how to handle responsibilities leads to increased escape into drugs….all these side issues are fueled because of my passion for healthy food.

So, my passion at this season is for education and clear thinking. Feel your passion but by all means, use your brain.choice-free-learn-paradox-text-Favim.com-405981


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Do You Vote?

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”  Plato

I remember when the law was changed and the minimum age to vote became 18. It was the year I turned 18 so I was excited. Do you know why the law was changed?

If you’re of a certain age, you will remember that we were in a war in Vietnam. The powers that be told us we MUST fight there to keep communism from taking over. Over 58,000 Americans died fighting there and you know what?  Our side did not win. (This may sounds familiar regarding some other recent wars.)

So, the argument was if an 18-year-old was mature enough to die for our country, an 18-year-old is old enough to vote. And yet, most don’t vote now.

Do you know that only 36.4% of  registered voters actually participated in the elections in November 2014?  In India, who proudly declares itself the largest democracy in the world, the last election had a voter turnout of 54.43%. In fact, year after year, country compared to country, the United States ranks the lowest of any major developed country in registered voter turnout.

Using voter turnout is an indication of how people participate in their government. So why do you and your neighbors skip acting on your opportunity to vote?

Many people think their vote does not count. And yet, here in Oregon, where voter turnout was better than the national average, about 30% of registered voters did not act.  In several districts the difference between the winner and the loser was under 1000 votes. The difference between the yes and the no vote for GMO labeling was 837 votes.  If you now have a result you don’t like and you didn’t vote, you are responsible. Understand that.everyt vote counts

Many people say they are too busy to vote.  Here in Oregon we vote by mail. In the upcoming election, the ballots will be sent to us April 29. Election Day is May 19 and ballot drop boxes are open until 8p.m. for those people who did not mail them back. If you read the voter packet with information about each race and each candidate, market your ballot, put a stamp on it and walk it to the mailbox, it might take you 15 minutes.  You can vote any time. You can even vote in your pajamas.

Voting registration is a process that can be intimidating.  There have been times when people were made to answer difficult questions before they were given a ballot. Many were turned away. Women fought for the right to vote. African Americans have the legal right to vote but there are still some places where obstacles are difficult. Here in Oregon you can register to vote at the DMV. When you go to renew your license or your car registration, you can register by filling out a form that takes about 2 minutes. Recently the state passed the Motor Voter law, making voting registration very easy. In fact, to refuse to register takes more time. You can, of course, register at the County Clerk’s office. The last day for registering for the May election is April 28.

Apathy is probably the most common reason for not voting. People often do not vote because they do not like the bickering and infighting or mud slinging between candidates. People believe with a lot of justification that politics is a dirty business, and they want nothing to do with it. As a result of the mud slinging, many choose to not pay attention to politics, or ignore it completely. However, those same people often complain the loudest about how bad things are, while not doing anything to make it better. Voting is the LEAST you can do. Getting involved helping a candidate you admire is much better.vote-hands

Some people say they do not vote because they do not like the two candidates that are on the news every night. What most people do NOT realize is there are many political candidates and choices beyond the first two that are on the nightly news ‘programming’. Find out more about third party candidates. If you have a smart phone, you have access to lots of information that your regular tv news probably won’t bother to tell you.

Some people believe all political candidates are bought off by corporations, so why bother voting, because the votes have already been bought and sold. People who hold that belief are actually correct in a way.  CORPORATIONS DO NOT CONTROL VOTING!

Many voters turn out for Presidential elections but don’t bother with local issues.  On the local level your voice is so important!  We are voting for the local Board of Education  on May 19th. There will be a McMinnville candidates forum held in the Carnegie Room of the Public Library Wednesday, April 29 at 7p.m. Come listen to the candidates speak. Then you can make up your own mind who sounds like they can represent your interests on the school board.I-VOTE

More about Yamhill County election dates and other information can be found here.

WHEN ORDINARY PEOPLE DON’T VOTE, THAT LEAVES THE WEALTHY MINORITY WITH THAT MUCH MORE CONTROL AND POWER