Archive for September, 2007

Concern about Parabens

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Seventh Generation’s newsletter concerns information that is news to me about potential estrogenic effects from the common preservatives Parabens. They can be found under these names:

• butylparaben or butyl paraben
• butyl p-hydroxybenzoate
• ethylparaben or ethyl paraben
• ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate
• heptylparaben or heptyl paraben
• heptyl p-hydroxybenzoate
• methylparaben or methyl paraben
• methyl p-hydroxybenzoate
• parahydroxybenzoate
• parahydroxybenzoic acid or para hydroxybenzoic acid
• propylparaben or propyl paraben
• propyl p-hydroxybenzoate

What I found especially interesting is that if ingested, the effect is lessened because digestion decreases the action. Parabens are most often found in creams and lotions and other skin care products, and initial studies indicate some concern about absorption through the skin and use in products that are left on the skin.

So check your products, and there are links in the longer article to the original study and the concerns regarding breast cancer specifically. Apparently many manufacturers are now labeling products as “paraben free”.

Maybe I Like Dating

Friday, September 28th, 2007

As I become more clear about what I like, and more comfortable, I’ve actually had a rather lot of fun lately dating.
Meeting new people who are outside of my regular wonderful circle of people, finding stimulating conversation, a bit of inspiration even. The tension and excitement of a hug, a kiss. I never did this as a teen. There are parts that are fun doing it now.

Walking home alone, driving back to my house with my loving dog but no human voices to greet me, returning to sit on the couch alone again, there is a down time. But even with a few “dates from hell” – two specifically now — I’m starting to like this.

It helps already having lost a few pounds and even more inches this month. I feel more attractive.
I hope this won’t go on for much longer (the dating – the weight loss should continue well into next year!), that I’ll find an amazing man soon who finds me equally amazing. But in the meantime, this is OK. And at times really fun.

Home Tours

Friday, September 28th, 2007

I spent the afternoon doing the Remodeler’s Home Tour with one of my many friends named Laura. Overall it was the sameold same old — with a few notable exceptions. First, a basement remodel that was awesome — full new foundation with 9 foot ceilings. Wow.

Lots of natural light with big open windows with deep window wells made of treated lumber. It was just all very well done with thougful touches.

Of course Giraffe design had an over the top project with soaring windows, fabulous woodwork, and special lighting throughout the house. Balconies, a hidden room for the kid, it was great. And such a question — to spend three times the cost of a normal house on a remodel. How do we use our resources?

The house we saw before had a “sky room” – a cupola sort of thing on the top of the house. It was a great idea, and seemed great at first glance but there was something disturbing about it. I was up there with one of the builders and I started talking out loud — what would the Feng Shui be with the dozens of angles both in the room as well as outside with the visible multiple angles of the roof. It was just not right.

So we were standing around discussing this when a realtor came up, overheard us and said she had the solution. Half shads – to cover teh lower half of the windows. Then, you would be blocked from seeing the roofs and would be mostly seeing trees. So it would immediately be more like a treehouse. Brilliant. She gave the solution and then left. The builder and I just looked at each other in awe.

Mostly when I go on these tours I appreciate my house all the more. And the unique projects I’ve taken on. And I wonder about the gross disparity of so much money and so many with so little. It is just weird to see how some people live. And I live so well, myself.

Oliver Sacks Interview

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Wired has an interview: Oliver Sacks on Earworms, Stevie Wonder and the View From Mescaline Mountain

One of my favorite writers talks about music and the experience of music.
Here is an excerpt:

Wired: Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker argues that music is an evolutionary accident, “auditory cheesecake” that exploits neural resources which originally evolved to process speech. But your book suggests that certain brain regions are wired specifically to process music.

Sacks: It’s not a question that we can resolve easily. One would have to look for aspects of music which have no equivalent in speech. This certainly seems to be true of the regular beat or pulse. Speech has its own rhythm, but it doesn’t have the fixed metrical quality of music. There’s spontaneous synchronization with rhythm in all human beings, even in childhood. You tap with it, nod with it, and even if you don’t, the motor parts of your brain move with it. There’s an auditory/motor correlation in human beings not found in any other animal.

His new book is Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
i look forward to reading it.

YouTube Shakey Jake Movies

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

The Ann Arbor News put out a video of the memorial parade for Jake. The mix of people and expressions make this a fascinating video with a bit of heart.

An interview with Jake

a memorial by Jo Mathis, Ann Arbor News, interviewing people

Memorialized on YouTube. That’s different.

I enjoyed the quick glimpse and memories.

A Lasting Impression

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Here is my a Marcel Marceau story. He died yesterday.

I was the bell hop and switchboard operator for The Campus Inn in the late ’70s. A lot of famous people stayed there who were preforming or visiting the University. It was fun to meet them or deliver towels or pillows to them.

Marcel Marceau stayed with us for a couple of days when he was performing. He moved through the lobby as if he was invisible, he took up almost no space, he was quiet (is that too obvious a thing to say?) and humble.

It turns out that he had already spent a night or two before someone else let us know the heat didn’t work in his room. He never said a word (again, sorry for the obvious joke) but just let it go. And it was a very cold week that he was there. The staff at the front desk was amazed at his lack of celebrity demands and arrogance. He was such a small, sweet, humble man. But then on stage – he was larger than life. I got to see him later in some short performance, and it was as it was a different man entirely.

Just a small personal memory of a man with a very large and amazing career, who was such a generous and gifted performer.

Cheat Neutral – speaking against carbon offsets

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

I’ve heard many concerns about carbon offsets, and as the idea has gained celebrity status I’ve become more concerned myself. Literally, celebrities have been taunting their offsets so allow for private jets, large houses, and other activities that would otherwise be environmentally wrong.

This lovely British parady, put forward by a couple of eloquent and intelligent guys draws a parallel that makes carbon offsetting look as bad as it is. It is not a solution to global warming and the climate crisis. We really do have to fundamentally change our behavior.

I appreciate that we may soon have local carbon offest options, but even that is a band aid approach that may cause people to slack off on their real comittment to life style changes that we have to embrace.

Cheating nuetral – no one gets hurt if you offset your cheating by supporting loving couples who won’t cheat? A crazy idea, yet we’ve embraced it for the environment.

Nicely done, not all political activism has to be negative and in your face and boring. This is a great example for my CHS class on how to make a point with intelligence and fun – even when the topic is deadly serious.

Information on the Boycott vote

Friday, September 21st, 2007

The People’s Food Co-op website has the ballot, the counting procedures that will be used, and other information to download.

We’ve received more than enough validated ballots to reach quorum. The board agreed to not do any ballot counting until the end of the voting (Sept. 30) as none of us want to know the results or even the trend and have to conceal that information for a week or more. We’ll do the counting the first week of October, and announce the results when we officially accept them at teh October board meeting on the 11th.

Meanwhile there is committee work to do, a conference call with out consulting firm, a board retreat in a week, the nights of counting, and my prep for the next meeting. A lot of work. Big sigh.

The Co-op is worth it all. I hope for a peaceful and positive and definitive end to the referendum process, and on with the other work that has been mostly set aside.

climate crisis – the data

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

It isn’t literally Global Warming as much as climate disturbance – however the latest data does make it look like it is a literal warming up. The National Claimatic Data Center (who knew we had that agency?) has a report for this past month that is specific and raises concern.

Major Highlights


Gristmill has this summary

By Joseph Romm

Let’s look at some of the records for the month:, according to the National Climatic Data Center, a division of NOAA:

* For the contiguous U.S., the average temperature for August was 75.4°F (24.1°C), which was 2.7°F (1.5°C) above the 20th century mean and the second warmest August on record.
* More than 30 all-time high temperature records were tied or broken, and more than 2000 new daily high temperature records were established.
* Raleigh-Durham, N.C., equaled its all-time high of 105°F on August 21, and Columbia, S.C., had 14 days in August with temperatures over 100°F, which broke the 1900 record of 12 days. Cincinnati, OH, reached 100°F five days during August, a new record for the city.
* The warmest August in the 113-year record occurred in eight eastern states (West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida) along with Utah.
* Texas had its wettest summer on record.
* This was the driest summer since records began in 1895 for North Carolina, and the second driest for Tennessee.
* At the end of August, drought affected approximately 83 percent of the Southeast and 46 percent of the contiguous U.S.

Coincidence? I think not!

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Shaky Jake

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

What does it mean to be an Ann Arbor Icon? Shaky Jake embraced the role. He may have even defined the role. I’m so sorry to hear that he died and I will never again pass by him as he hangs out on the street, mumbling one of his catch phrases. Mumbling something about “keep on moving”, complimenting Zomba in the last few years, nodding enthusiastically when I return his greeting “hey Jake”.

I always wondered, when I saw him, if he had any idea that our nodding acquaintance goes back nearly 35 years now. I first met Jake when he would haul himself up the steep stairs of 621 E. William to the shared phone room of Drug Help, Ozone House and Community Switchboard. Even back then, he was always enthusiastically welcomed and respected.

He would sometimes play the guitar for us, and sing. Short unmelodic, really bad playing and singing, but always entertaining.

He seemed ancient back then, but apparently he was only in his forties. Younger than I am now…

There were rumors back then that made an impression on my young (relatively) innocent imagination of his happy life picking up women and trading on his odd celebrity. I recall a few conversations I overheard alluding to his prowess, and I was never sure if he wasn’t mumbling something along those lines when I encountered him.

I wish I could recall some of the specific things we had talked about over the years, but I can’t. He was just someone who was always there, a touchstone from age 14 when I met him through my entire adulthood. Good for you, Jake. You lived an unusual and notable life. The bumperstickers you sold, “I brake for Jake” (thanks for the correction noted in comment) have a new meaning now, and I hope they will continue to be seen around town.

Your death does leave a hole in the street scene, you were a lasting character well known in one sense, and not at all in the true sense. Thanks for over 34 years of friendly greetings and just being there. I’m sad those days are over.