Archive for Deductive reasoning


Separating the Wheat From the Chaff

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[For those of you who have no idea what this means, it is a term used when you winnow the wheat after it is harvested. The chaff, or the hulls, dry straws and stalks, are separated from the grains of wheat – the wheat is stored or taken to the miller for grinding and the straw is used for animal bedding, mulch, and compost. It’s also used as an expression and applied to many different situations.]

So let’s take a dispassionate look at our food and separate the wheat from the chaff. Never mind all the emotion and slinging of mud – let’s get down to basics. Food is our focus activity three or more times a day. We want it to taste good, look good, and nourish us so that we stay well and feel good. We want the wheat without the chaff.

For pretty much the entire history of humans on the earth, food has been a very direct experience. You grew it, you exchanged it with your neighbors, stores carried the staples, and fixing it was up to a person in the house – for the most part. We started to fall in love with convenience, time-savers, prepared foods of all kinds. Life was good and more and more Mommies were out of the kitchen! Suddenly there was a hamburger joint, and a pizza parlor; sometimes even a Chinese restaurant. In the cafeteria, the Lunch Ladies still cooked everything from scratch. Most of the food was supplied locally and it tasted good.

After the extensive interstate road system went in during the Eisenhower years, food was trucked farther and farther. As the distance from field to table increased, so did the preservatives and chemicals in our foods. Even the fresh veggies had to be sprayed to prevent rot on the way to market. No blemishes allowed in our supermarkets!

Industry had it made! Things we love to eat started to be manufactured with chemicals, and esters, and artificial color to the exclusion of all natural ingredients. It was no longer food. As the chemicals increased in our diet, our bodies found it harder and harder to get rid of these toxins fast enough. Every day another load of chemicals came into our bodies; and every day we struggled to rid our bodies of all the chemicals. We also stopped noticing all the small differences in our bodies and in our health.We stopped noticing we just didn’t feel as good as we used to.

Gradually, all the chemicals in our food, in our water, and in our air became so prevalent and common that a new born baby has 200 chemicals in their little bloodstream at birth before ever having the first drink of  Mother’s milk. This is very serious. This means that when that baby takes in food for the first time – even Mother’s milk – that child is increasing the amount of chemicals in their tiny body because it’s in the Mother’s bloodstream as well. Is it any wonder the number of children with chronic conditions of all kinds has gone up so high? For the first time, the prediction is that the parents of today will outlive their children!

So here’s an experiment you can do on your own. Grab one of your favorite foods that is prepared for you. Read what’s on the label and for every ingredient that has a chemical name, look it up. I did it and was shocked by what I found. Sodium benzoate or benzoate of soda is a very common preservative. It’s been in use since I was a child and before. In Wikipedia the description includes the words “a known carcinogen” and says it becomes more toxic when combined with an acid. Like orange juice? Vinegar? Wine? They’re having a party in my tummy!

So go for it, Friends! Keep track of what you are eating. Make a list for the refrigerator and have everyone old enough to read put the ingredients of the food eaten on the list. Check off each ingredient every time you eat it again. One night sit down and look up each item to see what you are eating – and how much of it. Then talk about ways to reduce the chemical overload on your bodies.

Here are a few good rules of thumb: If it isn’t the color of food, it isn’t food. Red and blue dyes are very upsetting to some kids systems. Even the amount in their toothpaste can ‘set them off’. Until genetically modified foods (GMO’s) are labelled, avoid soy and soy products, corn and corn products, canola or rape seed oil, cottonseed oil, and beet sugar. All of these products have been shown to be very harmful to all living creatures after they are genetically modified. Apparently we don’t do well with a load of pesticides in our food either!

You can choose, you know. You can change the system with your choices. This is being proven again right now in the world. Everyone deserves clean food. For the moment, that is only possible if we eat whole foods, organic foods, foods we grow, and foods that are labelled “No GMO’s”. It’s tough to change; but the alternatives are truly grim! If we keep eating chemicals every day in everything we eat, we will all be very sick.


What Kids Need To Know

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Not so very long ago kids learned how to take care of themselves and others at a realitively young age. It was expected and necessary as there was always the need for an extra pair of hands around the house. Children helped take care of younger brothers and sisters by age 4 or 5, made their own bed, put away some or most of their clothes, picked up after themselves, and generally made a visible contribution to the family. In rural cultures the chores kids did were much more than this and in most of the rest of the world children are depended on to be competent in certain age appropriate ways.

Now this might sound like I am advocating some form of child labor. Not so. What concerns me about many (most) urban American children is the lack of common ordinary skills, not being able to take care of themselves and others younger then themselves to a moderate degree, and not being comfortable with age appropriate responsibility. The more you know, the more confident you are. “I can do that!” is a wonderful thing to be able to say to yourself!

So what skills are important for children? Which skills will increase confidence in themselves? How do we give them a ‘leg-up’ so that each one feels able to handle sudden unexpected events with confidence instead of fear and panic? I guess each one of us has to define this for their family, however the end goal is the same: have all kids feel good about being able to cope with life.

What can kids do at what age? Much, much more than you think! At age 5 my oldest son was changing diapers and feeding his younger sister and brother breakfast every morning. I didn’t ask him, he just did it. At this age getting cereal and milk, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, making your bed, putting away clothes, folding clothes, and dressing yourself are all well within the abilities of a 5 year old. I also know at other times-gone-by children at this age fed the smaller animals, hung out clothes on the line, weeded the garden, took care of the chickens, did simple mending and sewed doll clothes, and walked to school – even if it was a mile or two away.

Within the next year or so most of us, when I was growing up, could use a small pocket knife, tie knots, whistle, cook simple meals, take care of the baby for a short time, vacuum, wash dishes, and even iron. Again, I am not suggesting that all kids do all these things, I AM suggesting that the sooner each child can do the simple things of everyday life, the safer and more competent each one is.

We were big hikers in our family and loved to walk in the mountains or on a deserted country road for the day. It was important for the kids to be able to walk comfortably for long periods of time so we weren’t always carrying them. Our goal was to have each one walk two miles  by age two without being picked up. It took a long time to walk that far for sure, and everyone of the five was able to do this by age two! Here in Colorado kids are on skis by the time they are two, in California they swim well by then, so why not do other things as well?

The object is to give our children and grandchildren as much education about life as possible so that when something unexpected comes up each one knows what to do without panic. I want kids to be able to feed themselves, go to the neighbors, dial 911, know what to do about a fire, be able to leave the house by several different methods, and hide if necessary. I want them to know how to use scizzors, duct tape, rope, string, and their brain. We need to make sure our kids can think outside the box, be creative and original, and use deductive reasoning since it seems we are coming into a very changable and unknown future. Let’s give the kids the gift of being home smart, life smart, and street smart!


Gardening and Graduates

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This time of year is so full of new plants and new life. Suddenly the leaves are fully out on the trees and the smell of fresh baked Strawberry-Rhubarb pie drifts about on the wind. Light filling the early evening is a mixed blessing for gardeners, urging us to do one more thing outside before supper and then making that meal far too late! I love the urge to plant and clean up last year’s old growth.  I want to go get fish and bury them under the hills of squash and corn and potatoes. Primitive urges surface to dance in the light of the moon and stand for long minutes inhaling the seductive scents of Spring – lilacs, honeysuckle, iris, apple blossoms and wet earth. All of the wonderful abundant diversity of plants in our lives fills my senses with gratitude and awe. Their ability to come up through cement, live in the cracks of rocks, survive in all conditions, and change with the seasons is a good metaphor for all the graduates in this season as well.

The schooling that has been accomplished through all your study and hard work is amazing. The subject matter, though, may or may not pan out to be what you really need; may or may not be relevant in this rapidly changing, morphing world. The skills you have gained that will allow for your greatest success may not have been mentioned by your teachers and professors. Now at graduation it is time to take stock of the tools and techniques that will help you create your next life stage with passion and certainty. As with gardening some things will flourish this year that didn’t do anything last year. Some other ‘old faithfuls’ will wither and die for no apparent reason. We have more idea of the mystery in our lives now than ever before. So I look to the plants and animals – the natural world – for the most useful skills, talents, and tools for a future you can count on. We, like them, are evolving.

The key concept is to develope personal sustainability. Each one of us has the ability to sustain ourself as long as we also have the ability to re-think our life and then go with what works right now. Careers and trades come and go now with great regularity and increased speed. Count your education as something that has taught you how to think things through; how to find new answers and make up new solutions; how to get outside the box. Everything that has gone before can only give us the basic unstructured building blocks for the future. We are all standing on the very edge of the known universe. What do you want to have with you to help you with whatever is next in your life?

This is a variation of the old thought experiment: What do you want to have with you if you get stranded on a deserted island? What do you want to be able to achieve in a future that is not now defined; that is basically unknown; that is brand new? Think about it. Do you know how to make a solar cooker, plant seeds, be in community, step out of the backdoor with a song and a prayer knowing you can sustain yourself and others? Develope an understanding of re-purposing and frugality with your commodities. If we are going to create a world out of the best of the old world, what does that look like for you? In a world where money is no longer a stable commodity or even present in the same way as it was in the past, what matters to you and how will you get there from here?

These are the interesting questions. And the questions are always more interesting than the answers. Always. What questions are you asking yourself these days?  How many different options/answers can you think of for every question? If you can start from where your passion is and how it can be increased and expressed positively in the world, you will have a better way of creating your future. Don’t base your expectations of the future on anything from the past. We are in such a totally different world that approach will not work.

What do I suggest? Be flexible and head for a passionate dream, not an old tired goal of our Father’s and Mother’s design. Their dreams and accomplishments are history. Your’s has not yet come into being. Know all of the basics of personal sustainability and how to get by out of a backpack OR have a good friend who does. Know how to think and figure out new solutions to new problems. Know how to drop anything that doesn’t work, no matter how long it has been in use. This includes beliefs, patterns, and solutions used by anyone else for any other time. Assess the situation with a new eye, and remember that ‘I can’t’ never did anything. We are a creative, inventive people. Use this to energize your life.

I’ve gone on long enough. We are in the midst of turning this world onto a new course or dying trying. That is what’s at stake here. Those are the skills we need now. All your young eagerness and enthusiasm are the very qualities we need now every where at once. There are no limit to the number of jobs available to birth our new world; you simply need to create them, see them, do them, and enjoy the ride!

Congratulations and Blessings! You are our future! Live in it with passion!