Leadership and My Fellow Citizens

I’m continuing my attempts to eat more #organic food in Edmonton. Admittedly I’m on a bandwagon, and I have less critical thinking (and research) going into my decisions to buy organic than I’d like.  Regardless, the stories of my journey cause a scare in me that the Organic food movement is propagated more by businesses than by righteous research and wholesome decision making by consumers.  A few stories I’ve heard recently cause me to think (against my hope that they are guided by more than money) that civil servants are ultimately guided by the almighty dollar than by goodness.

I remember my dad saying when I was younger that we should all expect at bubble of lower productivity that move through our workforce when we make significant budget cuts to the Education System. He would say, Education cuts need to be considered more critically over other budget cuts.  While I think the balancing act is a behemoth, currently I’m focused on how decisions are made as they related to food. In Canada, Health Canada is the department that regulates this, and I have hope they will be guided by heavenly good decision making. 

My friend, Josh, had shared a story that a bakery in BC was calling some bread organic, while making it with non-organic flour.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) had found the bakery mis-labelled “Organic” bread. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-bakery-caught-selling-mislabelled-organic-bread-1.2489314). This went on for 3 years, and nothing was done.  The headline “Betrayal of Consumer Trust” is accurate, because I, too, feel betrayed.  Aside-ly I can think of a few other groups that might be linked to this headline.  I almost think that we as consumers need to put more emphasis to CFIA that this lack of compliance after inspection is unacceptable.  Who’s at fault? I am…because I continue to let the Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, deal with issues that she sees are more important.  She can’t see unless someone tells her, and I honestly keep silent.

I, in my ignorance, also allow Health Canada to support progress for the sake of progress. Where is the passion in the leadership, like the Swiss, who ship their cows by helicopter out of the mountains. Why, because it affects the country’s water table if they die and then rot in the mountains.  Their Government gets involved to pay for cows to be shipped out.  That’s the direction I’m talking about…where is that type of commitment in our food system?  I mean subsidize home gardens, teach citizens the good things they can grow, and incentivize them on taking on their health themselves.  Maybe it’s limiting sugar in key cereals.  A gal I knew said you can’t put vitamins or fibre in a junk food like Pop.  Now, it’s happening where pop (soda) companies can put vitamins in sugary drinks–WT!   I mean the end game has got to be the almighty dollar.  I know I should just accept it, but there is a better way, and it’s sacrifice.

If I don’t take a bit more interest in my health, then who will protect me and my health?  If I don’t speak up about Organically labeled products made with non-organic ingredients, who will on my behalf? If I don’t tell leaders that I value sacrifice over making more of a buck, then I shouldn’t be surprised at the outcome.  I think we need to spend more time looking, critically, at the decisions our leaders in Government make, and also ensure that we lead those with wholesome, maybe more expensive choices in the marketplace.

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Saltwater tank, Turbo Snails and Barnacles

I picked up a few snails from Big Al’s Aquarium yesterday. They  are super interesting, and really fun to watch.  My aquarium is a salt water tank, and I’m wanting to turn it into a reef tank versus a marine tank, but the salt water part has been much easier, because of my friend Dan Grewal (he Rocks, literally http://www.ottawafolklore.com/2010/08/dan-grewal/)

I started out about a year ago, and I convinced my wife I should pick up a 45 gallon fish tank, the filter, heater, and no light for $75 in Fort Saskatchewan.  January 2013 was the start of the journey.  I picked up this tank, and it came with a mid-sized pleco, and I turned it into Big Als.  The other two fished died, but the pleco got a new home.  I started my scrubbing of the fish tank…what a lot of work that was.  It was vinegar and a souring pad I used to scrape the inside clean.

Once I got it cleaned, I loaded it with water…45 gallons of Instant Ocean. What a task that was, but finally I got it up and going. Dan said I needed to have it run for about 3-4 months. The long it ran, the more of a good cycle I would have (referring to the Nitrogen Cycle of all fish tanks).  I let it run for 3 months, 4 months, 5 months. About month 3 I think I saved up enough money to purchase some Live Fiji sand from the pet store. It was necessary to have a thick bed of sand, called the substrate, so that anaerobic bacteria could eventually develop.  Again, no light.Then it hit me, about 10 months into this that I really needed a light, and that the ambient light from the sun from my living room wasn’t cutting it. So, for Christmas I asked my wife for the gift of light. Amazon had a good 150W metal halide with two 450nm actinic T5 fluorescent bulbs and and LED moonlight. Once I got it, the tank started to do some amazing thing, including grow cyanobacteria or this red-slime algae.

The final move was when this red algae stuff was looking like it was spreading all over, I went over to Big Al’s Aquarium, bought a dozen red-band turbo snails to eat the algae, and my problems would be solved.  After acclimating the snails to the tank (30 mins of temperature and water swapping) I put them in, and two of the 12 right by the large patch of red slime. The next morning…BOOM! The right 1/2 of the algae was all gone, and what was left was the purple Coralline algae–SWEET!  These weren’t Mexican Turbo snails like the websites seemed to say, but the Red Band Turbo snails seemed to be effective. Here are some pics of them below.

I sort of miss talking with Dan at work about this tank. He had other plans with his family, but nonetheless I was happy to have met him and asking him how to start a salt water marine/reef tank.  I love looking at the clear patches, cleared of algae. I also like looking at the tank both with the metal halide on as well as in the moonlight LEDs. Now that my sw tank has cycled, I only need to convince my wife on getting some of the corals. My first one will be what my friend Mike Paustian likes, a Green Star Polyp, which looks like grass flowing in the sea.

Confession of an Info Junkie

I’m several days into Seth Godin’s #BlogFor30 challenge, and it really is a challenge to commit to writing a blog.  I find there’s a great deal of thought I need to generate to write a blog post, plus there are many topics I find interesting, but it’s the refinement of those thoughts that takes the time to work out when having to write. I’m finding my thinking can really be undisciplined, lazy, and distracted.

I enjoy a good thought just like the next guy. Thoughts are stimulating, there is little commitment behind them, and they are plentiful in my head.  That overstimulation shows up in other areas like my search patterns on google and even in managing my own household. While I get tasks accomplished, sometimes they take a bit of time.  I think this affinity to mental stimulation is caused by unrestricted searching on the Internet, but I believe it also is caused by a lack of goals and my attention to them. Honestly, while a set of written goals can accomplish tasks, a lack of goals is an unrestrained chaos.  Who guides me if not for my written goals?

Also, I think my thinking can be lazy at times. The remainder of overstimulation due to interesting topics causes a depressive response sometimes. If there’s no click-whirr, if feels like there’s no motivation to put thought into something.  Click Whirr is a response (maybe addictive) in a person has that triggers them to act more irrationally than otherwise. The click-whirr for me comes from wanting to be the first responder of interesting information for the motivation of personal acknowledgement. That motivation is soooo imperfect, and because it feels like the motivation is pulled out from under me, my response pendulum swings to the other side,  I stop caring about affirmation, and that mental response is childish and lazy.

The distracted thinking, I think, also stems from the addiction to information (Info Junkie), and the affirmation related to showing value by responding to information first.  The click-whirr effect has caused many a distracted thought, and because there are so many interesting topics out there the temptation is high.  I also don’t think I can get away from that in this world, but there are other, more rational responses than just blind, feeling-based, reactions…like knowing who I am as a person.

So far in writing this article, I’ve taken several hours, traversed 3 meals, visited 1 friend, cut my dog’s hair, and finally the end is here here.  Knowing who I am in the Lord Jesus is an important fact, granted for Christians. But the good response to temptations, distractions, laziness, click-whirr, and lack of discipline can be acquired through the meditation on God and the complete picture of what Jesus has done for me (and you).  When I woke up this morning I saw the crucifix with Jesus while I lay on my pillow.  I think the response to what Jesus did on the cross combined with what he’s doing on the throne in Heaven is important to consider fully.  That meditation keeps magnetized the needle of my compass to always point in the direction of fruitfulness despite my own distractions, laziness or lack of discipline.

9kg of Ground Beef Cooked – CHECK!

Have you ever eaten tacos in a bag?  Well, I haven’t, but we’re going to try it out for the company Treat Day tomorrow.  Doritos, Beef, Sour Cream, cheese, lettuce and salsa in a bag together. What a neat combination.

I cooked 9 kg, 3 Costco packs, of lean ground beef. Now,  I don’t want to see ground beef again in my house for the next month.  My house smells like cooked meat; that fatty, metallickey sick smell. It’s stuck in my nose too.

We’ll see how this tacos in a bag goes tomorrow. Off to relax now…

Life Hygiene – Perseverance

The people in the office I work in are sick, and every turn seems to uncover another person sniffling, coughing or sneezing.  I’m doing my fair share of hacking here, myself today.  One of the people who aren’t sick (he got his flu shot last week) shouted over the cubicle wall “Anyone want a brain scan for $85 bucks”. Two of us stopped and walked over to his desk. It was true…a EEG (Electroencephalography) for 85 bucks. What?!? Why is there a brain scan for $85. Did some young scientist find a cheap EEG reader on Amazon.com? The strangeness of Living Social’s offering fits into my category of thinking called Life Hygiene. This topic of life hygiene seems more developed than I’ve noticed, and I think life hygiene has been and continues to evolve(that’s small “e” evolution) to meet our current world demands.

Brain Scan for $85 (not MRI)

A friend of mine, James, once said that we should consider it joy when you face trials of many kinds, because the testing produces perseverance, and when perseverance finishes it’s work we are matured in our way.  Don’t you think that’s true?  When we’re tested to meet a demand, eventually we are met with success. Sometimes we’re not. The failure points help us to remain humble (hopefully), get us to think more critically about the test and outcome, and given multiple other opportunities the chance to persevere.

There are some things we may not have choice to persevere over. My father’s colleague just passed away from a full menu of cancer. He was a hard-working accountant, who had persevered through many trials, and was one of the more productive with respect to accounting at his firm.  I heard from the Funeral that he played hard, and also worked hard.  I remember him when I dad took me in on the weekend to the office to pick up files, this man seemed to be around on the weekends often (maybe it was just during tax season in April). The first sign was a strong backache during the past summer.  He recovered, and a few months later, while on yearly vacation with his family, he noticed blood in his urine.  The first visible sign something was very very wrong.  Within 3 weeks he had deteriorated and died–they think it was bladder cancer, but couldn’t tell because it had spread to his liver, lymph nodes and bones.  3 WEEKS FROM FIRST VISIBLE SIGN UNTIL DEATH ?!?!? You just can’t persevere through some things, and when Job (ch 14) says a man’s days are numbered, these untimely deaths get me thinking about my own life.

What can we persevere through so that we can celebrate life, even if the end comes quickly? There is a testing (trial) to eat healthy these days with all the fast food I mean non-organic produce and processed foods. There is a testing in our mental condition with long, focused hours at work, in our hobbies, and with our non-work projects. There is a testing of our spirituality when we get together with friends or interact with our spouse (it’s mostly patience, but 8 fruit too).  This last one is good for us to think about, because perseverance in spirit makes it easier to persevere through eating healthy, and being mentally healthy.  Perseverance and gratitude in spirit are two great elements I think contribute to exceptional Life Hygiene.

As hygiene evolves to be relevant today, remember to be thankful, patient and loving while people like me and others go through their life trials to meet up with perseverance and win. Consider it joy that you don’t have blood in your urine today. Consider it joy that you struggle to eat healthy every meal. Consider it joy that your patience is tested with your spouse. One day that joy will be perfected by that perseverance you experience, which comes the perseverance of spiritual things like with our friends, co-workers, and spouses.

Listen to this lady, speaking at her husband’s funeral, talk about spiritual perseverance. God bless you…

Edmonton (YEG) – Flu, Cold or H1N1

I can’t believe I was sick yesterday.  It seems like I hardly get sick, but around Edmonton these days there are some pretty sick people around.  My office is filled with them.

I talked with my colleague Daryn, and he’s been sick with bronchitis for 4 weeks now.  He says he’s felt this bad only once like this, but for longer, and he thinks at the time he had contracted H1N1.  This time he doesn’t know what it is, but he’s only really at 85%.  The vast majority of the remainder of my colleges seem to be sick too.  It’s going around the office.

I was reading about colds and flu on WebMD.  They basically say that a fever is the main, large difference. A cold often doesn’t come with a fever. The Swine Flu (H1N1 strain) is accompanied with vomiting and diarrhea, where as a flu more often doesn’t.

Cold vs Flu (Edmonton)

WebMD says that flu and cold virus enter your body through your mouth, nose or eyes.  How often do we touch those in the day? To give you an idea in the last 15 mins I’ve touched my watery eye about 35 times.   How often do you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands? Think about it…that’s how the virus is transferred.

You should know the difference between the common cold and flu.  They are very similar, but the flu will way more often come with a fever, and the complications of flu that can be life threatening.   Also, know the difference between mild vs moderate vs severe aches and pains, so that you can better know what you have, and more importantly if you should goto the doctor.

Wash your hands often, cough into a tissue or your elbow, don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.  (Oh yeah, and use hand cream to deal with washing so many times in dry ol’Edmonton)

Resources:

Canada’s Influenza Site

Alberta Influenza Site

The Work Fruit Bowl – The Pope – Some Chia Seeds

The work colleagues I sit by in my area have been doing a fruit bowl now for about 3 months. I like that there is fruit to eat, and I like that we all share the load.  In my own search for significance when it came to my 2nd turn I had to try something new.  So, I picked up some coconuts…the young Thai kind.

I’ll follow Michelle Hertz video of how to open a Thai Young Coconut, and I’ll have to show everyone how to do it. I’ve got the Coconuts and the knife ready to go to work in the morning.  I’ll bet there are some good opinion that comes from something like this at work.

In other news, the Pope has been slandered from a site saying that he’s declared some new dogma that doesn’t line up with Christian principals.  The person that posed the news about the Pope looses credibility day in and day out…read until the very bottom.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/francis.asp

Finally, I’m going to try making some of this tonight for tomorrow morning. It’s Chia seeds resting overnight in Almond Milk, and I’ll put honey instead of maple syrup, since we’re fresh out of Maple Syrup.

http://detoxinista.com/2013/02/vanilla-chia-pudding-vegan/

Have a Jesus blessed week all…

Food Processor vs Blender – Thai Young Coconut Pudding

I picked up a few young coconuts the other day, and I looked up how to open a Thai Young Coconut.  I wanted to make some raw coconut pudding, plus use a food processor recently procured over the holidays, although I dislike cleaning it.  The recipe I found needed to blend, and a food processor doesn’t really blend, so I kept trying.  I was successful in my attempts to blend, even without a high power blender.

I started searching for ways to use raw coconut in a recipe, and there are many recipes out there. I found one that was really easy, and it would allow me to use my food processor. SCORE!  I think I stopped on Detoxinista’s website (http://detoxinista.com/2012/08/creamy-coconut-pudding-two-ways/), because of the name of Megan’s site–DETOX-inista.  It’s pretty cool to me.

Raw Coconut Pudding (maybe not true organic Coconut)

Next, I had to open the young coconut. Many of the videos I watched used a cleaver and hacking method.  First, I didn’t have a cleaver. Second, the hacking a coconut seems really unsophisticated (and maybe I slightly consider myself as more than a hacker of food). I found this video by Michelle Hertz. It was knowledgable, and quick to get to the point. So, I used this technique and I opened the Young Coconut.

Following Megan’s recipe (above) I added the correct portions to the Cuisinart Food Processor. The best result I could get was a funky pudding that tasted good, but the consistency was like bad rice pudding. Even my wife had no immediate response, so into the blend it went…ugh. Cleaning another kitchen tool! After blending with a $59 special blender for a few minutes the coconut and water and vanilla and salt were smooth and tasty.  Success!

I think the best part of making with raw food is I get to use the food processor or some high-powered device to get the job done.  I enjoyed trying, and learning, about the capability of the food processor and our blender.  I also enjoyed taking a semi-organic approach (Young Coconut, Raw Honey, and real vanilla).  If you’re into raw food cooking, check out Detoxinista’s site. Hopefully Michelle produces a few more YouTube Videos.

Christmas Tree Decorations – Faux Pas

The Christmas season is one of my favourite times of the year. It started when I was a youngster, and every Christmas my family got together at my Grandparents place on Christmas Eve and there would be a lot of laughter. The family, fellowship and decorations on a Christmas Tree are very meaningful to me.  I especially like when someone bumps the tree and all the decorations swing in unison. It’s beautiful. Recently, I have had thoughts related to our Christmas Tree that made me chuckle. My pals John Fernandes and Daryn Duliba have a perspective that I didn’t think about before.

My family Christmas tree when up around Dec 10, which is near the beginning of the Christmas season.  My wife and I decorated the tree, and we use these decorations we’ve collected up over the years–some meaningful, some nice to look at, and some just conveniently acquired.  There are a large number of Christmas balls that had came from our wedding just over 2 years ago. There are more silver, teal and frosted balls than you can imagine, but admittedly the look nice on the tree with the lights.

ChristmasTree

My wife and I also like to have people over to spend time together.  The ambiance in the living room is warm, friendly, and welcoming, but when combined with a bit of warmth found in a tea, latte, or apple cider it reminds me of the family fellowship of my youth.  This past weekend we had a number of friends over for a New Years’ Party, and we still had the tree up.  As they were leaving my wife pops a question to them about the location of a few of the larger ornaments–namely at the bottom of the tree (if you look in the picture you can see them).  She asked our friends where the would be better placed if not at the bottom…it turned out to be a bit humorous. They said in the middle of the tree, so I sarcastically placed them higher, but together. Some laughs rang out. I then lifted and separated them about chest level.  More LOLs came flying from the friends, at which point I concluded to my wife that these large decorations were places in the exact right spot to look beautiful.

I recounted the story to my friends Daryn and John today.  John started poking fun at our house guests who had just finished a meal (at the time) and started making fun of the decorations.  I believe John conveniently put it: “So those folks came to your house, ate your free food, and then proceeded to insult your decorations?”  He, Daryn and I all laughed at the situational comedy of the statement. As I think about it now, it’s one of those things you’d see in a sitcom.

I really love Christmas, and even as an adult this season is being a great deal of fun and enjoyment to me.  I loved the interaction in telling the story at work. John is a bit of a character. Daryn is too. I loved the laughing with my wife and friends at home, and I really love that Christmas tree.  I think we should all laugh a bit more. My Twitter friend, Bruce Van Horne, re-tweeted a meme that likely points us out to be more like children than like adults this past. Let’s try and laugh a bit more.