Smarts in a bottle?

smartwater-bottle-newlabelI guess if you dress anything up with a young, nubile, pretty girl - a naked pretty girl - it will sell like hotcakes, right? I can almost forgive the underlying nuances of such an advertising tactic considering how hot and thirsty I was when I bought a quart bottle of this smartwater stuff. And while I reached for the bottle in the store’s cooler, men weren’t knocking me down to get at that beautiful model hidden in each bottle, nor were there women gnashing past me to get the stuff that makes that beautiful model beautiful. I was safe. I was thirsty. I managed to satisfy that thirst and live through it.

Then, I fell into a guilt trip. That purchase was not exactly a “green” thing to do. To be honest, it was the bottle that got me. Very tall, slim and crystal clear. And who couldn’t use some bottled smarts? I popped the cap, tipped it up and drained that bottle in two gulps.

That bottle ain’t just an average single-serving bottle of beverage. It’s made with a heavier, sturdier plastic that your usual, run-of-the-mill soda bottle. It doesn’t collapse in your hand when you suck hard on it. As cool looking as it is, I figure there has to be a few more rounds of usefulness to it. No sense in wasting a perfectly cool bottle, is there?

Oh, the advertising tactics are amazing. It says it’s “vapor distilled,” like what happens to water falling from clouds. It’s in its purest form, the bottle says. Um, haven’t you noticed the pollution in said clouds and atmosphere? What exactly is vapor distillation? Is there really even such a thing? I want to see it.

And, it’s not “pure” water. Why bother doing this special, unheard of purification process if you’re just going to turn around and add electrolytes? Aren’t those the things added to Pedialyte for dehydrated babies or the things you give a horse after a long trailer ride? No. These electrolytes are added to smartwater “for taste.” Taste? Isn’t water supposed to be tasteless?

I’m confused, and frankly, I don’t care. I gulped down that bottle of vapor distilled, electrolytes added for taste water so fast that all that just never crossed my mind. And, to assuage my guilt trip for buying water in a bottle, I filled that bottle back up and popped it in the freezer when I got home. Hey, that heavier, sturdier plastic bottle came in handy after all.

Bottled water. Jeesh. Water that sits around gets old and rank, and that’s when water has a taste. Yuck. But hey, the bottle is cool.

Sad and glad for all the challenges and changes

overgrownfencepostJuly has been baking. All the ingredients for major change have come together, all at once, to form obstacles far greater than just bumps in road. While it's a bit crazy, a dark cloud hasn't hung over all the challenges. In a matter of time, what all comes out the other end will be complete with some form of icing on the proverbial cake.

You all know I love my place. I love that Odin is right here, up close and a major part of my little pack of animals that is my home. If I had my way, I’d build a house that included a stall for him so that he could come inside at night with the dogs and I. Ah, maybe one day… But now, I am moving. The reality of it all is that I can’t afford to go through another winter here. Heating this house ate all my income and threw everything else into the wind. I have to move.


Spam comments anyone? Me neither.


A few months ago, someone from somewhere in Asia decided to start leaving comments on all my blogs written in Chinese with links to what appeared to be porn sites. Is that something you’d like to see here? Me neither.

So, I increased the security.  First, I enabled CAPTCHA. They must have real people behind all those spam comments because it had no effect. Then, I enable comment moderation. I kept getting the spam comments, but at least they weren’t ending up on my blogs. Persistent spammers, that is for sure.

Once in awhile, I’d find out that someone tried to leave a comment on my blogs but wasn’t able to because the embedded comment form didn’t work. When I saw those same complaints from other Blogger bloggers, I figured it was time to come up with a Plan B.

I ran into DISQUS, a commenting system, on a few tech blogs that I read often, and soon came to appreciate the functionality it gives to commenters, and I’m soon to find out what it will do for blogs.

The problems with the comments have gone on long enough to discourage comments here, and I hope this change to DISQUS changes that and recreates the open, active forum for discussion that I have always strived to achieve.

So, try it out. How does it work? Do you like it? Is it easy to leave a comment?

Let me know what you think~


What it takes to bring you the news

typewriterI look at my schedule and find I’m due to cover a small town’s city council meeting on Monday. Last Monday, in a different small town, was another city council meeting. And, there will be yet another one on some other Monday of the month as it is every month. As a freelance reporter for a small, daily newspaper, I have my beats; those city council meetings, a few planning and zoning committee meetings, and once in awhile, a special event or feature article.

It’s not often that we think about what it takes to bring the news to you on a daily – nay, minute by minute – basis, just like we rarely think about what it takes to put an automobile together, the canned goods in a grocery store, or the electricity through those countless miles of power lines. None of the work is visible, unlike the construction of a new home, a building or a roadway.

Now, with a tanked economy sinking many newspapers out of business, along with the transition to online delivery, news has taken an even harder hit with little revenue to keep the process going. Not many understand that without the news, the government and everything else runs amok. And, it is now since there are far fewer reporters out there witnessing and writing about what is going on. The news, especially the local news, is what keeps us together, on the same page and participating members of our community.


A storm rolls in, then out again


It was a nice day, partly cloudy, the sun going in and out most of the day. It wasn’t quite as hot, in the low 90’s, and the humidity had dropped just enough for the grass to dry out enough to mow from yesterday’s momentary rain. I spent an hour and a half on the mower, didn’t complete the front part, but had to stop. I sunburned.

Then, out of the blue, up from the south (I’m facing east to take this photo) moving quite rapidly, a wall of thick, heavy cloud moved in and took a lot of the daylight out of the day.


Get past the words


“It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists and were religion not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.” Ernestine Rose

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed more and more people questioning, not only the daily horrors that are so rampant in today’s world, but the existence of God when no answers are found to explain the hell that life has become for so many. Whatever the hellacious circumstances that weigh so heavily on so many hearts, the pain has become palpable and overwhelming for anyone who feels. When things go so wrong, when the horror reaches beyond our ability to manipulate or control is when, in self defense, a person will look outside themselves for the cause, for something, anything to blame for all the bad that has happened.

That I understand, or at the very least have an inkling of why, does not belittle the fact that my heart cried out when I saw the above quote by Ernestine Rose floating by on my Facebook wall. You see, there is no connection between atheism and religion, though religion – organized religion – may be the driving force behind the choice to doubt the existence of God or a Supreme Being. A child is born into the totality of life in a pure state, and a child is able to perceive more of life for the simple reason that language and linear thinking has not yet had the chance to veil the child’s vision. You have experienced this sort of solidification of your being into your body just as you have witnessed it happening in the children you’ve met. You reason it away by the terms and phrases you learn from others and from the countless organized religions out there. Even if you come from a family that did not “practice religion,” much of what constitutes organized religion is incorporated into our culture and is inseparable. Regardless, logic dictates that a fundamental belief in God is not a given in the particularly religious, nor does the opposite, that a particularly spiritual person is religious.

Religion, all religions are a man-made construct. “God created man in His image, then man turned around and created God in his.” At best, religions are organized to pass on morals, mores, values, ideals to everyone and each successive generation. At worst, they are manipulative, controlling and dominating – never for the benefit of all.

Take the words out of the equation. Do not think of God or a religion. Instead, think deeply enough to dig down to and through the walls that language and thought have built. When you find your heart, listen. Listen hard.

A mind committed to compassion is like an overflowing reservoir - a constant source of energy, determination and kindness. This mind can also be likened to a seed; when cultivated, it gives rise to many other qualities, such as forgiveness, tolerance, inner strength, and the confidence to overcome fear and insecurity. ~Dalai Lama


Weekend fireworks a time to build trust and confidence


The long, hot, sultry, dog days of summer are here, complete with a growing drought and weeds galore. We are hammered by horse flies with bodies the size of a large man’s thumb and ticks that suck until they drop off their victims and splat open in a pool of blood. It’s a marvelous time, which I can now say in honesty since I recharged the A/C in the truck. Temps in the low 80’s used to feel too hot up in upstate NY, but now, I don’t complain about the heat until it starts nudging up to 100. We’ve adjusted to life in Arkansas, Odin and I.

This horse and I have become close in ways that has never been described in all the horse books I’ve read, and those ways are far from what the TV trainers like Pat Parelli and Clinton Anderson blast away about on RFDTV. Sure, they have a few good points and methods, but neither come close to what I have with my horse. I have no magic, I’m not psychic, I have no special tools or gear, I’m not young and lithe, and I have no specific method that I follow to get to where I’ve gotten with my horse. And, there is no secret.


Out from under the weeds and thistles

Compassion is like a sense of caring, concern for others’ difficulties and pain; for family and friends, and all other people, even enemies. If we think only of ourselves and forget about other people, our minds occupy a very small area and even tiny problems appear very big. When you develop concern for others, your mind automatically widens; your own problems, even big ones, will not be so significant. ~Dalai Lama
How easy it is to forget such fundamental truths such as this. No problem. As soon as I forget, I am reminded. Lately, I have fallen into The Trap, that way of withdrawing, covering up, hiding in self-defense, bending and bending under the weight of others’ pain, all the while forgetting that the drained batteries will be recharged and that we are never given more than we can handle. It’s like everyone and everything I ran into was in sore need of tending, but I didn’t feel like I could handle it. I learned the lesson, a tough one, yet again. It feels like this: