Archive for April, 2011

April 23, 2011

Coke Reusable Rainwater Project Works

Coke symbol of American thirst Kudos to Coke for this project. Whatever their reasoning for doing this it is a message to us all that we need to change our thinking about water usage and recycling. Their products are still not very healthy and in many cases detrimental to our health. But they taste good and I must admit popping the top of a cold coke on a summer day brings on good memories and refreshes.

In celebration of Earth Week, Coca-Cola teamed up with Detroit-based non-profit Urban Farming to launch a rainwater harvesting project at local community gardens. The project uses repurposed Coca-Cola syrup barrels to conserve water and create a sustainable water supply for vegetation in the Urban Farming gardens; thus helping to provide free, fresh produce to the community. The recycled rainwater harvesting systems will be placed in nine community gardens located throughout Detroit. With help and materials from Home Depot, garden structures called “pergolas” will be constructed within each garden and equipped with a rain barrel, solar panel and pump system.

waste water gardenThe rain barrel will capture rainwater from the roof of the pergolas, store and filter the water into the pump. The solar pump is connected to a drip irrigation system which when activated will water the plant life in the garden.

“This Earth Day project highlights the need to learn about the new green technologies that are necessary to preserve our planet and expose our community members to green businesses and green collar job opportunities in the emerging Green Economy,” said Taja Sevelle, founder and executive director of Urban Farming.

To date, Urban Farming and its partners have planted and facilitated over 24,000 community and residential gardens across the country and abroad; 1,200 of them in Detroit and surrounding areas.

April 18, 2011

Creationism Is Not Something Albert Einstein Would Support

Einstein weighs in on creationismAlbert Einstein was a lot of things. But most importantly, he was a scientist. And as a scientist, the idea that he would want creationism taught in schools is laughable.

But that didn’t stop a Tennessee Representative from declaring that Einstein would support their new “science” curriculum. In fact, according to Think Progress, Rep. Frank Nicely provided some lovely quotes from the great thinker to support him on the floor.

I think that if there’s one thing that everyone in this room could agree on, that would be that Albert Einstein was a critical thinker. He was a scientist. I think that we probably could agree that Albert Einstein was smarter than any of our science teachers in our high schools or colleges. And Albert Einstein said that a little knowledge would turn your head toward atheism, while a broader knowledge would turn your head toward Christianity.

The problem is, as Think Progress points out, Einstein never said that. It was a bad paraphrase of philosopher Sir Francis Bacon.
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Perhaps they should stop trying to change the science curriculum in Tennessee and spend a little more time on literature and philosophy instead.

April 16, 2011

Poisoned Pot

two devotees of cannabis let their hair do the talking

True "Pot Heads"

The following should not surprise you. I’m not sure I believe this but I pass it along to those of you who want to check it out. Beware of the trojan horse poison pot.

written by Bob Frezno
We pot and hash smokers are part of a loose alliance of like-minded people with alot more in common than our affinity for the herb. We are fundamentally different from those that would never deign to try something that was prohibited by society. We are explorers, free thinkers and we are under attack.
There is a conspiracy to poison us and just us. Tens of thousands of pounds of toxins are added, on a daily basis, to pot and hash that we consume. Not since the American deployment of the toxin paraquat on pot fields have we seen such a wholesale poisoning of cannabis users and it’s being done entirely for profit.
Who could possibly be so malign as to poison a harmless pot smoker for personal gain? Look no further than your local Hells Angels chapter.
It’s well known that the bikers have their fair share of growhouses, run the big fields in the boonies and make the big buys of fresh afghani hashish. Basically they set the tone for the illegal trade and since the Angels muscled out the local gangs things have gone from bad to worse. Crap weed is laced with chemicals, the hash is full of camphor, and Oshawas legendary honey oil can now do double duty in your crankcase.
The people who ingest these adulterated products are being slowly killed and their quality of life is diminished both now and in the future. It’s time we heard an outcry against the heinous crime which is inflicted upon a vulnerable, marginalized societal demographic, namely the fun-loving quirky group of people known as pot smokers. Anyone who would kill us, even a little bit at a time, must be stopped.

April 16, 2011

The Gray Wolf To Lose Endangered Status

grey wolf in the snow huntingIs this the influence of Sarah Palin and the “Tea Party”?

The U.S. Senate stood strong against 18 budget riders that would have had severe consequences to our environment, but a serious one was still allowed to slip through. Thanks to the new budget deal, the gray wolf will be stripped of its endangered species status. Tell Congress to stop its attack against the Endangered Species Act and to protect the gray wolf.

The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus), often known simply as the wolf, is the largest extant wild member of the Canidae family. Though once abundant over much of Eurasia, North Africa and North America, the gray wolf inhabits a reduced portion of its former range due to widespread destruction of its territory, human encroachment, and the resulting human-wolf encounters that sparked broad extirpation. Even so, the gray wolf is regarded as being of least concern for extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, when the entire gray wolf population is considered as a whole. Today, wolves are protected in some areas, hunted for sport in others, or may be subject to population control or extermination as threats to livestock, people, and pets.
Gray wolves are social predators that live in nuclear families consisting of a mated pair which monopolises food and breeding rights, followed by their biological offspring and, occasionally, adopted subordinates. They primarily feed on ungulates, which they hunt by wearing them down in short chases. Gray wolves are typically apex predators throughout their range, with only humans and tigers posing significant threats to them.
DNA sequencing and genetic drift studies reaffirm that the gray wolf shares a common ancestry with the domestic dog. A number of other gray wolf subspecies have been identified, though the actual number of subspecies is still open to discussion.The gray wolf is an icon of the wilderness of the Northern Rockies, but they have been close to extinction before. Its estimated that the gray wolf population is only 10% what it once was world-wide.
By the 1930’s, most of the wolves in the U.S. had been killed, and it is only because of intense reintroduction efforts that population numbers are sustainable today.

April 12, 2011

I’m Jacked Up About Starbucks

Starbucks logo and sign

Starbucks Coffee sign

The Treehouser is a coffee drinker. It’s true and I’m proud of it. There is no doubt that Starbucks has great coffee and for that matter their lowfat blueberry crumb cake rocks. But the best thing about Starbucks now is their willingness to join in and contribute to recycling and saving environmental resources.

Starbucks has made some impressive commitments to reducing the environmental impact of their packaging, but without a clear tracking system its difficult to see the progress being made.

The company has promised to serve a quarter of its drinks in reusable cups in an effort to reduce paper and plastic waste, but doesn’t keep track of how many costumers actually use them and rarely promotes the ceramic cups and travel mugs for sale in the store.

The goals that Starbucks is working towards are great and we would love to be able to track their progress. The coffee chain is one of the most popular and well-known, giving them an opportunity to make a change in the industry by setting a eco-friendly example.

A Savory Delight

Now here’s another cool thing about Starbucks, they give you info about making coffee on their website. Read on;

The 4 Fundamentals

The recipe for a great cup of coffee. Proportion, Grind, Water and Freshness. Understand and follow the guidelines for each of them, and you’re on your way to brewing a great cup of coffee every time.

Use the right proportion of coffee to water. This is the most important step in making great coffee. For the most flavorful cup of coffee, Starbucks recommends using two tablespoons of ground coffee (10 grams) for each six fluid ounces (180 milliliters) of water. If coffee brewed this way is too strong for your taste, you can add a little hot water to your cup of brewed coffee.

The shorter the brewing process, the finer the grind. Different brewing methods have different grind requirements, so grind your coffee for the brewing method you use. The amount of time the coffee and water spend together affects the flavor elements that end up in your cup of coffee, and the design of your coffee maker dictates how long the coffee and water sit in direct contact during the brewing process. For instance, coffee ground for an espresso machine should be very fine, in part because the brew cycle is only 19 to 22 seconds long. But for a coffee press, the coffee should be coarse ground, because the water and coffee are in direct contact for about four minutes.

Use fresh, cold water heated to just off the boil. A cup of coffee is 98 percent water. Therefore, the water you use to make coffee should taste clean, fresh, and free of impurities. Water heated to just off a boil (195° to 205° F or 90° to 96° C) is perfect for extracting the coffee’s full range of flavors. Any cooler and the water can’t adequately do the job. Automatic coffee makers heat the water for you. Make sure the one you use gets the water hot enough.

Use freshly ground coffee. Think of coffee as fresh produce. The enemies of coffee are oxygen, light, heat, and moisture. To keep coffee fresh, store it in an opaque, airtight container at room temperature. Storing coffee in the refrigerator or freezer for daily use can damage the coffee as warm, moist air condenses to the beans whenever the container is opened. Whole bean coffee stays fresh longer because there is less surface area exposed to oxygen. For the best results, coffee should be ground just before brewing and used or stored immediately.

I’m not saying that Starbucks is the best coffee in the world but it is certainly up there as far as the corporate coffee companies go. Not so much for the coffee taste aroma or the experience of sitting in a Starbucks and working your laptop. But for it’s acknowledgment that they must do something to help our environment. So for that reason and I do like the coffee I am giving a thumbs up to the coffee giant.

Let Starbucks’ President and CEO Howard Schultz know that you appreciate the effort that the company is making and that they have an excellent opportunity to be an eco-friendly leader in the coffee shop industry.

April 10, 2011

Our Most Important Concern

The fabulous lake in Big Bear

How quickly we can forget what’s happening to our environment. This article I found covers it so well. My only comment is read the article and think about it a moment. If enough people pause a moment and take stock of what is happening outside of their own sphere of influence then change for the better may occur quicker than it is happening now.

written by Matthew McDermott, a Treehugger blogger

So much of environmentalism is about looking forward. Looking forward to the more socially and ecologically sustainable world we’re trying to create. Looking forward via climate modeling, projections of energy use, resource consumption, and population growth, to attempt to foretell the type of world we, our children and grandchildren will have to deal with, adapt to, and live in.

That’s important stuff, no doubt. But how much of that looking forward is constrained by our seeming inability to remember the past? Is our collective cultural memory (or sometimes lack thereof and oftentimes quickly diminishing) a critically important and neglected factor in environmental thinking?

If you’ve gleaned where I’m going with this, that I do think we ought to be doing some more self-reflection, both personally and collectively, about what we remember, what our parents remember and what our societies remember, you’re right.

What brings this to front of mind today is an interesting factoid that Andy Revkin highlights in his column over in the New York Times.

Revkin points out a study that talks about ‘disaster memory’ and relates it to the massive infrastructural expansion and concurrent energy use explosion that has occurred in so-called developed nations since World War 2 and continues at breakneck pace in China, India and elsewhere, in far too unquestioning mimicry today.

The point of relation is that it’s taken decades of building nuclear power plants in places at risk of both tsunami and earthquake for the very word tsunami to appear in planning guidelines. It wasn’t until 2006 that it appeared.

Could it be a lack of historically relevant disaster memory that caused the lapse in judgement?

Revkin writes,

One clue to the lack of concern might simply be the roughly 40-year period of relative seismic calm (in terms of a lack of great quakes in populous places) from the 1960s into the 2000s, as shown in the chart [below] from Bilham’s report. (And note the remote locations of nearly all the great earthquakes from the middle of the 20th century–Alaska, southern Chile, far eastern Russia).
In the original there are links galore supporting this theory, but the thing that strikes me is that this lack of disaster memory could just as easily and aptly apply to many other pressing environmental issues as well–inasmuch as what we consider normal levels of energy use, gadget use, clothing purchases, car usage, flying, et cetera etc etc in the really not so distant past were lower.

Just one example, air conditioning use. What once was considering a luxury is unquestioningly now called a necessity in more and more places–in the process ignoring entirely the fact that 1) air conditioning is a historically modern invention, 2) places used to be built with natural cooling in mind, 3) it simply isn’t a necessity for the vast majority of people, however cooler we might feel on a scorching day ducking into an air conditioned building. Our collective memory of how to exist without air conditioning has been erased in the span of just a couple of decades.

the incredible sabertooth tiger now extinct

Extinct Saber Tooth Tiger

Other examples: How often people used to eat meat (hint, it’s way lower than is done now, at least in the US and Europe), how many gadgets you need to be entertained, how to build communities not centered around de facto mandatory automobile ownership, how many fish used to swim in streams and the oceans, how many birds used to fly in the skies, how many bigger animals used to be in our forests.

I could go on and on. Be clear that what I’m not advocating is just a rosy-glassed version of the past, ignoring those things that are better today than a half century, century or more past. There have undoubtedly been changes that are positive for human development. But in continuing to support those positive changes in human development, maintaining them today and in the future, equitably expanding them where possible, let’s remember to turn around and remember how things used to be done where appropriate. Doing so can only help that effort.

This post was originally published by Treehugger.

April 9, 2011

Hostage Nation: The Continuing War On Drugs

The book Hostage Nation

Treehouser doe not normally talk about books but the United States’ continuing War on Drugs in Columbia and the intermixing of questionable politics and money-making corporate bedfellows deserves a call out. At the core of most conflicts around the world is some sort of moneymaking deal. In this case it is pesticides to poison the coca crop from the air. And make no mistakes we the people are paying for it out of our pockets in taxes and in the form of the crime it engenders when illegal drug sources dry up. Draw your own conclusions.

Hostage Nation is a great read, but its title is something of misnomer. What the book is really about is the capture of four American contractors by FARC guerrillas after their plane went down on an anti-coca pesticide-spraying mission in 2003. One was executed by the FARC at the scene; the others spent more than five years in captivity in the jungles of Colombia before being rescued by the Colombian military in a stunning charade in which Colombian soldiers tricked rebels into delivering their hostages, who also included the famous former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, into their waiting arms.

In a sense, though, Hostage Nation is a synecdoche for Colombia’s experience fighting its own leftist guerrilla insurgency — the longest-lived insurgency in the hemisphere, now in its 47th year — as well as fighting America’s war on drugs. In a very real sense, Colombia has been a hostage nation — held hostage by its own internal divisions and American drug war geopolitics, as well as seeing hundreds, if not thousands of its citizens literally held hostage, taken captive to be used as bargaining chips by the FARC in its relentless struggle against the Colombian state.

And while, until the very last chapter, Hostage Nation does not directly confront US drug policies in Colombia or their failures, its briskly paced narrative illuminates — at times, starkly — just what those policies have wrought. At the beginning, the book opens a window into the murky world of American defense contractors and subcontractors working for the State Department in its efforts to poison the coca crop from the air. Those contractors, like Northrup Grumman, were perhaps the primary beneficiaries of Plan Colombia, gobbling up hundreds of millions of dollars in lucrative spraying contracts at taxpayer expense.

From the site original review written by Phillip Smith, April 06, 2011, 07:55pm, (Issue #678)

April 8, 2011

The Best Medical Marijuana

Let me first say this, I am not a marijuana user. But I do think it is essential for some people to use it. I also think it is an individual’s choice as to what to ingest as long as they are following the law and not hurting anyone. I do know people who use medical marijuana and simply put their quality of life is better because of their usage. So why does Treehouser write about this subject matter? Simple it is a natural medication. Here a snippet of marijuana history.

a diagram of marijuana and its parts

Marijuana Plants

Cannabis sativa has been used therapeutically from the earliest records, nearly 5,000 years ago, to the present day (Mikuriya, 1969: 34) and its products have been widely noted for their effects, both physiological and psychological, throughout the world. Although the Chinese and Indian cultures knew about the properties of this drug from very early times, this information did not become general in the Near and Middle East until after the fifth century A.D., when travelers, traders and adventurers began to carry knowledge of the drug westward to Persia and Arabia. Historians claim that cannabis was first employed in these countries as an antiseptic and analgesic.

Other medical uses were later developed and spread throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Several years after the return of Napoleon’s army from Egypt, cannabis became widely accepted by Western medical practitioners. Previously, it had had limited use for such purposes as the treatment of burns. The scientific members of Napoleon’s forces were interested in the drug’s pain relieving and sedative effects. It was used during, and to a greater extent, following his rule in France, especially after 1840 when the work of such physicians as O’Shaughnessy, Aubert-Roche, and Moreau de Tours drew wide attention to this drug.

With the rise of the literary movement of the 1840-1860 period in France (Gautier, Baudelaire, Dumas, etc.), cannabis became somewhat popular as an intoxicant of the intellectual classes. For more go to

Chronic Pain Relief
With 15 U.S. states and Washington DC already allowing medicinal marijuana users a legal alternative to managing their own pain, advocates fighting to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis claim their time is near.

In November, California voted against ending cannabis prohibition all together, but the measure was defeated by just over 700,000 votes with Proposition 19 forcing the global spotlight on the issue of pot law reform for recreational use.

Medicinal use of the plant, however, continues to forge on as a trojan horse of sorts. As more chronic pain sufferers praise marijuana’s healing power and debate over lost tax revenue and expensive jailing for offenders grows louder might warrant a closer look into the financial viability of legal sales.

In an attempt to take a closer look into marijuana’s alleged medicinal values, we consulted Danny Danko, High Times magazine’s senior cultivation editor, to help us identify the most popular strains for medicinal use. Highlighting excerpts from Danko’s new book, High Times Field Guide to Marijuana Strains , we compiled a list of marijuana strains that he claims to have medicinal value.

What are the top medical marijuana strains today? Read on…

medical marijuana


White Berry
According to Danko, White Berry can make a great nighttime smoke, claiming its soothing qualities can induce a peaceful, easy feeling just perfect for sitting on the couch. He also recommends White Berry for relieving muscle spasms and restless-leg syndrome.

The hybrid genetics of this strain is a mix between Humboldt County “Trainwreck” and “Afghani Mazar,” giving the user a favorable taste and the grower an easier plant to grow. Danko claims this strain enhances appetite and lowers ocular pressure, which is particularly important for glaucoma sufferers.

“Trainwreck” is a staple of Northern California, says Danko, and the A-Train strain has “a kick all its own.” It was named the High Times top 10 strain in 2009 and is known for its spicy flavor and citrus after-taste.

Dr. Grinspoon
Named in honor of noted cannabis researcher and author Dr. Lester Grinspoon, a Harvard Medical School professor and advocate of marijuana for over 40 years. “Long-lasting and very cerebral, this is a true connoisseur’s strain,” says Danko. Danko says this strain can be used for the treatment of depression and nausea.

Blue Dreams
“Over the past few years, the sativa-dominant Blue Dream has become a real dispensary favorite on the West Coast, especially in the Bay Area,” says Danko, noting that it’s become a staple at many medical-cannabis collectives. He describes it as “as full-bodied in odor, flavor and high, the colorful strain provides a richness of experience lacking in many other “meds.”

Danko also notes that Blue Dream allows the user to be fully functional and lacks sedative qualities present in many other strains, although the euphoria experienced is relatively strong. He offers this strain may be a remedy for chronic stomach or back pain.

To read more go to

This is a repost from an article By Oliver Quillia & Paul Toscano
Posted 8 Dec 2010

April 7, 2011

Bees Take Over Porsche

Here’s something you may not know; The working memory of bees “robust and flexible.” If working memory is part of general intelligence, and honeybees have working memories as good as those of pigeons and monkeys, there’s no reason to assume pigeons and monkeys are a lot smarter than honeybees. Hence bees are not stupid. Given the choice of a new home to build a hive why wouldn’t bees seek out a nice comfortable place with luxury leather seats, stereo music and air conditioning?

Ok so get a load of this, a woman doing errands in her Porsche was very surprised to find thousands of bees massing together in the back of her vehicle. Initially she assumed it was just a few buzzing around outside the vehicle and when they dispersed, she continued on her way. However, after her child notified her that the bees had not gone away, but were actually forming in a tight bunch in the hatchback area, she knew she had a problem. Handling the bees in an aggressive and damaging way was not acceptable to the Pest Control Manager who answered her phone call, as he was aware of the large declines in bee populations recently.

He didn’t have a product that could cause the bees to vacate the car without harming them, so he called a beekeeper. A special vacuum was used to gently suck them up, and they were relocated without harm. Not all people are aware of the large dip in bee populations, called Colony Collapse Disorder. Luckily, the pest control manager did know and respected the bees enough to make the right choice in how to deal with them. Instead of having pest control personnel kill them, it may be much wiser to call a beekeeper if you ever have such a bee situation. Bees in spring often leave their old hives and set out to establish a new one.

Now isn’t it humane to treat these vital creatures in this way? I suggest we “look to the beekeepers”. Treat each other in this manner, respect others right to live and thrive. Hopefully they won’t be nesting on your front lawn!

Read more:

April 5, 2011

Bald Eagles Get Their Own Show

It’s really great that we get to watch the birth of a bald eagle. Something that is very hard to witness in nature. Unbeknownst to them, a pair of bald eagles in Decorah, Iowa are being watched by millions of online viewers as they prepare to hatch three eggs. I think it’s food for the soul to witness nature as it is supposed to be. We go about our lives focusing on jobs, navigating freeways and finding the best deal on TV’s, cars, clothes etc. Every now and then pausing to think about the natural world around us and how powerful it is in its ability to regenerate and reproduce puts things in perspective.

bald eagles nestingBob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project, set up the camera to capture footage for a documentary. The footage has gone viral since the eggs were laid in February, captivating viewers from around the world who are getting a rare glimpse into the secret life of raptors. The scene at the nest is now being broadcast live on Ustream and can be watched live 24/7.

The pair have been together for four years and have raised eight chicks.

Although bald eagles are no longer listed under the Endangered Species Act they are still protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act.

The following are videos of the first and second hatchings. You can watch them live on Ustream to catch the third, which is expected to hatch in a few days.