Wednesday is for teachers

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

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

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

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

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

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.

February Newsletter

February 23rd, 2011

Hey folks,

Its February 23… almost ran out of time to do the February Newsletter but I am determined not to miss a month.  But it will be brief.

 FLORIDA TOUR

was amazing and wonderful.  Thanks to everyone who hosted us and everyone who came out to shows.  Big welcome to all the folks new to this mailing list.  We had such a great time we plan on spending another week or two next year.  In fact we came home and started to work on a new CD so we can have something new for you next year!

ONE LAST SHOW

in Florida.  This Saturday, Feb 26 at the Prairie Creek Lodge in Gainesville. Show starts at 7:30 and benefits the Alachua Conservation Trust.  Spread the word if you have friends in the area. If you are in Gainesville please consider coming out to the show, and maybe joining us for an easy hike on Sunday morning. www.frictionfarm.com/shows

THE APRIL TOUR

starts April 1 in Virigina.  We’ll head to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.  The shows are all on weekends and we’d like to fill in some mid-week dates.  Any ideas? Here’s an offer to anyone in NJ, PA or nearby who might be willing to host a mid-week house concert.  I’ll cook. Invite over half a dozen friends who might like our music.  Charge a reasonable cover charge for dinner and a show.  I’ll shop and cook dinner (we’ll give you some choies ahead of time, nothing fancy, nothing that will make a mess in your kitchen).  We’ll play a set of music.  It will be an early night.  Email me if youmight be interested and we’ll see if we can make it happen.

WEDNESDAY

is my blog day.  If you haven’t seen it yet please visit the website and click on farmer’s almanac.  If you are a slightly left leaning/environmental activist/optimist you might enjoy it.Thanks for listening,

Christine (and Aidan although he is not home right now)

It’s a Spring Wednesday

February 23rd, 2011

I’m sorry, I know it may not be spring where you are but my crocuses (croci?) are blooming. I spent some time wandering around our small yard and thought it would be a good time to chat about it.

We are on a big lawn reduction campaign. Honestly it is because we hate to mow. Its loud, it uses fuel, and mostly we’re lazy. While we are being honest I should mention that I have never mowed the lawn here. Aidan does it and when we are away our neighbor mows it. So I can’t really use that as my reason to hate the grass. I just find it useless. We don’t throw a frisbee around out there, or picnic on the ground. It is just useless green stuff that requires too much water so that it will grow and you can mow it. Seriously a nice lawn requires way more water than native plants and if you want it to look fantastic, you probably need to use some questionable weeding and feeding products. You know lots of fertilizers are petroleum based right?

I will also argue that it is not as pretty as other front yard options. We planted some azaleas, as they grow quite well here with no care. And we planted some grape vines, blueberry bushes, apple and plum trees. Talk about useful. Instead of re-seeding the front lawn this year I’m adding creeping phlox, an evergreen ground cover that blooms in summer, spreads a lot, and is drought tolerant. I’ll probably throw in some spring bulbs because the early blooms make me happy.

One of our neighbors has a vegetable garden on the front lawn. I think its great, not sure how the other neighbors feel, but he has stuff growing there almost year round. If i didn’t have big oak trees up front I might do the same thing.

So lose the lawn. Save on water. Reduce pesticides and petroleum based fertilizers, reduce fuel use and noise of mowing. Just a little lawn reduction each year goes a long way.

What’s in your yard?

make music wednesday (and save the world)

February 16th, 2011

Its 5:40 pm on Wednesday.  A little late for me to be posting and so you are probably dying to know what you can do today to save the world.  I have a good excuse for being late.  I was working on a new song… about half done at this point.

That got me to thinking that if I am going to interupt my writing to ..um…write ? Interupt songwriting to blog, I should at least talk about music.  Big surprise, I think music will save the world.  But I really do, and not in that hippie lets-all-sing-along-and-manifest-change way.  No, in a much more scientific way.  Music has an effect on the brain.  There are lots of studies that show that introducing kids to music in schools improves their ability to learn other subjects, particularly math.   And if it works with kids, I think it must work a bit on adults although considerably less profoundly.  I also know that music is unique way of communitcating on an emotional level that helps us deal with the challenges of life.

I know these are tough financial times for school districts and municipalities.  But who need them?  We can fix this.  If you are a musician of any sort, consider performing for an underserved market.  Perhaps playing for kids in schools or after-school programs, maybe a senior center or retirement home.  My friend Laura Sue Wilanski (the Silver Nightingale)  often plays in hopices and hospitals.  Laurie from the fabulous duo Jennings and Keller does work with women’s prisons.  Its a great way to spend a free afternoon while you are on tour or a way to contribute to your local comunity.  Doesn’t have to be a long show, or a regularly scheduled thing.  Just make an offer, see what happens.

Presenters can offer a lot as well.  The Labyrith Cafe in Ft. Lauderdale FL has always included adults living with mental or physical challanges in their audience.  At our recent show at Urban H2O in Yonkers, members of a group home were in the audience.  If you can offer a few seats at no charge at your event that would have a real impact.  Sometimes its not even money that is the issue… just letting folks know that they are welcome and wanted in the community makes a difference.  We played at a State Park on our recent tour in Florida.  Lots of kids, right up front.  Some were dancing!  I’m going to make it a point to include more kid-friendly places on our schedule.  Not all venues are ideal for kids but if your venue is – let people know.

Put on some tunes, turn up the volume a little, sing along, dance around your living room.  We’re goning to save the w

Got a minute? Save the world.

February 9th, 2011

Want to help me save 119 million killowatt hours of energy this year. It will only take a minute.
I was making pasta last night. About a minute before it was done I turned the burner off. I always do this. I always have. To me, it just seemed obvious that this would save energy. Not much, just a little, just doing my part. Just 119 million killowatt hours per year. Okay, that’s not the amount I save, it is the amount we can save if every household in the United States does this just once a week… and that assumes that every american uses the small burner and has an efficient stove. So really we’ll be saving more than 119 million killowatt hours each year.
Don’t worry about the pasta, it will turn out just fine. Trust me. The pot is hot, the water is boiling, all that heat will stick around for another minute.
How much easier can it get. You do nothing for a minute you save 119 million killowatt hours of energy a year. Have I said that number enough? Its huge !
We can do this. You and me. And all of our friends and family. Spread the word.