Archive for March, 2011

Wednesday is for teachers

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

I’ve been really swamped lately, and tardy with posting. That’s because I’ve been working on SERFA, a music conference I am helping to organize.
One of the things we’ll be doing at this conference is bringing grade school aged kids in to listen to some acoustic music. Then they will get some hands on time with instruments. Great idea, right! Not my idea btw, Clint Alphin a wonderful Nashville based singer and songwriter came up with that.
But it got me thinking about how many schools have dropped their music programs. Which got me to thinking how nervous each and every public school teacher I meet is about losing their job. I know in election season all of the candidates talked about how important education is. Top of their lists. Hmmm. Every school district around the country is facing cuts.
I don’t have a million dollars to donate to my local school, do you? Let’s assume no. So what can we do.
Aidan and I will offer our services to schools and libraries as we travel. We can do a short performance, talk about writing and music. We’re not usually doing anything in the middle of the day in the middle of the week anyway. If you want us at your school, library, community center… just ask.
What can you do? If your kid has a great teacher, let them know how great they are. Just say thank you. If there’s a book fair at your school library, participate. Even if you don’t have kids in school. If you have left over supplies from the office, donate them. I know a teach who had to buy paper for the copier to give assignments to his class! If you are a musician, story teller, artist… offer your services on occasion.
These are small things. We are a big crowd. It will change things. I promise.

Wednesday Word of Mouth

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

I got a note from my friend Marc Black reminding me that it was national water day, so I thought I would write about water protection and conservation. But then I really thought about Marc’s message. It was about fracking and his campaign to stop this from happening, especially in the upstate NY region where Marc resides. He has really been working this, spreading the word, educating folks on this subject. And he is doing that through his song “No Fracking Way”. Its a good song – catchy, funny – that helps him get the point across.
That’s what we’re going to do today. Pick something that matters to you. Something global, national, local…its up to you. Pick something from one of our previous Wednesday’s if your brain is on spring break today. Now spread the word. Talk to one friend, or two. Post something on your facebook status. Get your point across gently, respectfully, intelligently, perhaps with some humor.
Ponder this. If each Wednesday you and I took one of the small steps towards saving the planet and improving this place… AND if we each asked one person to join us in that small step.. that would be a lot of steps.
So share this blog with someone. Or, go watch Marc’s video (I’d have a link if I were prepared but just search Marc Black No Fracking Way… you’ll get there)
Let’s take a lot of steps together and make this a great place to walk around.

Thursday, It’s the new Wednesday

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Thursday is a lot like Wednesday only a day later. I got distracted. Blame it on that whole spring forward thing. Forgot yesterday was Wednesday. the world was not saved. Fortunately we’ve done enough in previous weeks, that the planet lasted an extra day without us.

Aidan and I have been doing a little construction this week. Built a closet in the hallway and took advantage of some unused space (i.e. a wall) and built a pantry. I posted about it on facebook wondering where folks in the 1940’s kept all their stuff. Turns out they didn’t have all that much stuff. It made me stop and ponder. By average American standards I am not a huge consumer. Still, I have a lot of stuff. Why do I have all this stuff? do I need all this stuff? why am I thinking of getting more stuff?

The short answers are I don’t know, no, and I don’t know. But I do know that we have all become voracious consumers. Most of us have more possessions than we require. Some of us have more than we really want. So this week, I ask you to think carefully about what you purchase. Do you need it? Do you really, really want it? Why are you buying it?

I am not against buying things. I am not against supporting businesses. I am against waste. I am against mindless spending that uses up our valuable resources so that we have less left for what really matters. Much of our domestic manufacturing has been moved to areas with lower labor and social costs, lower building costs, lower environmental standards. Big business didn’t do this. We did this… by demanding lower costs so we could have more stuff. I did this. You did this. And we can start to undo this.

We can become more mindful consumers. We can speak with our dollars. We can support local business, organic farmers, unions, socially and environmentally responsible businesses. There really is enough money for all of those things if we choose carefully, and mindfully.

I would give up much of this stuff to have the wealth to supply portable cooking stoves, heaters and fuel to families struggling in Japan tonight. Its not Wednesday. You can still save the world.

March Newsletter

Friday, March 11th, 2011

am proud of myself for keeping this newsletter going for five straight months. I’m not good at getting things done. At least not the sort of stuff that requires me to sit at my desk and do work. And its only going to get harder now that spring is here in South Carolina. I’ve got plants and seeds to get in the dirt, a table to paint, and always more leaves and sticks to rake up!

We had one last show in Florida since my last (very late) newsletter, and it was a good one (the show not the newsletter). The Prairie Creek Lodge in Gainesville is a beautiful place and great for music. The day after the show we went on a nice walk at a state park with friends Elaine and John. Lots of alligators basking on the banks and in the water. They were so close we really could have reached down and touched some. Saw a decent number of birds, including an osprey unsuccessfully hunting. There are also wild horses and buffalo on the grounds. Interesting thing happened while we were there. A ranger asked if we would fill out a survey online when we got home. Elaine thought this might be because funding for state parks and park services is in jeopardy. They are all trying to justify their existance. Support your local parks before they disappear folks!

We’re heading to Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts in April. Check the calendar on our web site for details. We don’t know too may folks in Charlottesville VA so if you know anyone there please let them know we’ll be at C’Ville Coffee on April 1. And no, that’s not an April Fool’s joke. We really appreciate those of you who spread the word about our shows. It really helps us out, especially in areas where we are new or not well known. THANKS!

We are still saving the world every Wednesday. This week Aidan actually blogged. Okay technically he did not blog. But he came up with the idea and editted it before I posted. I did all the difficult stuff like research, but I am the one who committed to doing it. If you haven’t seen it yet please scroll back and check it out. Each week we post a simple idea that will help make our world a little bit better. If we all take a little step we can make a lot happen.

Hope to see you out on the road, we might even have a new song or two.

Christine (and Aidan)

This Wednesday Aidan Saves the World

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

As usual on Wednesday afternoon I am struggling to come up with something simple we can all do to impact the world in a positive way. Aidan had an idea. he told it me it would effect the environment, personal economy, health and safety and world peace. Damn over-achiever.

Here is how he proposes you accomplish all that today. Properly inflate your tires. Yup, that’s it. Properly inflated tires will last longer – saving you money and reducing your drain on the environment. They will increase your fuel efficiency – again saving you a few bucks and saving the environment. And they will respond and handle better – keeping you safer and healthier. And that world peace thing? If we use less fuel we’ll fight fewer battles for oil.

You see, an under-inflated tire can’t maintain its shape and becomes flatter than intended while in contact with the road, the sidewalls bulge a little, internal heat builds up. It’s all bad. Your tires get worn, they don’t handle well, Yup, that’s you, on the side of the road waiting on AAA… or worse in a crash.

The Rubber Association of Canada did a recent study estimating 23% of vehicles in Canada had at least one tire under inflated. Goodyear conducted research aimed at truckers demonstrating that under normal speeds, for prolonged periods a tire 20% under inflated experienced a 16% loss of tire life. That’s a lot!

That same Goodyear study showed a 2.5% reduction in fuel efficiency under the same conditions. Does 20% under-inflated seem like a lot? Its only 6 psi on the average car. And for cars, rather than big trucks, the US Department of Energy says under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. FYI, the proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb and in your owner’s manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall.

Tire Rack conducted a Performance Test Track Drive, comparing properly inflated tires to purposely under-inflated tires. They used 2003 BMW 330Ci coupes. The tires installed on one test car were inflated as recommended (29 psi front, 33 psi rear), while the other car had its tires inflated 30% lower (20 psi in the front and 23 psi in the rear). 30% under-inflation is the percentage established by the US DOT at which passive pressure monitoring systems should warn the driver of low inflation pressure .

The under-inflated tires required more steering input to maneuver, steer, corner and were slower to respond. The rear tires’ reactions lagged behind the front tires, resulting in a detached sensation being transmitted to the drivers. It proved to be over 2 seconds slower around our test course (2 seconds represents about a 7% loss of handling performance).
The tires’ ability to move water, i.e. drive in the rain was also seriously compromised.

So that’s it. Go to your favorite neighborhood gas station, check your air pressure, inflate properly, save the world.

Spring Cleaning World Changing Wednesday

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

It happens every week. Suddenly its Wednesday and I am unprepared. Not that I have any shortage of topics on which to rant. But I like to have research, facts and figures.

Today my friend Catherine Miles from The YaYas helped me out by posting on her facebook page that she had unclogged the drain and cleaned the coffeemaker using vinegar to complete both chores. Catherine helped save the world today.

Cleaning is a real drain on the planet. You probably can’t imagine the chemicals that are used in everyday household cleaner. Fortunately, you don’t have to because I have the facts. You might think a product called Simple Green might be safe and environmentally friendly. But, it contains formaldehyde, phenol, and butoxyethanol – all linked as cancer causers. And that’s the short list! Old school cleansers are no better; comet contains methyl-ethyl ketone. toluene and benzene; pine-sol has formaldehyde in its frightening list of indredients. New stuff doesn’t look too attractive either, like Febreeze which contains acetaldehyde and ethyl acetate. Don’t get me started on our nation’s obsession with antibaterial and antimicrobial soaps and detergents. If we used this stuff outside we would call them pesticides. Actually the EPA does classify their ingredients as pesticides.

I don’t know about you but it makes me feel dirty. Vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda…. they make me feel cleaner, safe and better about my home.
If you are doing some spring cleaning today, save the world while you’re at it.