30 January 2008

Dreary rainy bleech

I needed something cheery and warm this morning after a very wet and depressing walk to work. Uncle Ken to the rescue with his gorgeous BC sunflower pics ! They are just the ticket today ...

Ahhhhh :0)

29 January 2008

Illusion of Progress


World on Fire

Sarah McLachlan - World On Fire lyrics

Hearts are worn in these dark ages
You're not alone in this story's pages
Night has fallen amongst the living and the dying
And I try to hold it in, yeah I try to hold it in

The world's on fire and
It's more than I can handle
I'll tap into the water
(I try to pull my ship)
I try to bring more
More than I can handle
(Bring it to the table)
Bring what I am able

I watch the heavens and I find a calling
Something I can do to change this moment
Stay close to me while the sky is falling
Don't wanna be left alone, don't wanna be alone


Hearts break, hearts mend
Love still hurts
Visions clash, planes crash
Still there's talk of
Saving souls, still the cold
Is closing in on us

We part the veil on our killer sun
Stray from the straight line on this short run
The more we take, the less we become
A fortune of one that means less for some

[Chorus X2]

27 January 2008

In the Sunday Papers: Meat and Water

Via: Treehugger
by Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 01.27.08

Gary Kazanjian

Mark Bittman writes in the New York Times about the relationship among meat, fuel and food crops, and how we will probably be eating less of it. "Grain, meat and even energy are roped together in a way that could have dire results. More meat means a corresponding increase in demand for feed, especially corn and soy, which some experts say will contribute to higher prices....Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption."

Further north, Canadian writer Silver Donald Cameron does an excellent job of summarizing the problem of bottled water, calling it "a scam, a triumph of brilliant marketing and knavish politics."

25 January 2008

Heidi, you ROCK -- Another recipe for the file

Olive Oil Cracker Recipe


If you have trouble tracking down semolina flour, just substitute white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour), it will be make a slightly different cracker, but should still work. To get creative with your crackers you can top them with lots of things before baking: a bit of freshly grated cheese, artisan salts, cornmeal, a dusting of your favorite spice blend, seeds, or a wash of your favorite flavored or infused oil. You can simply cut the unbaked cracker dough into various shapes using one of those pizza cutting wheels.

1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

special equipment: pasta machine (optional)

Whisk together the flours and salt. Add the water and olive oil. Using a mixer with a dough hook attachment mix the dough at medium speed for about 5 - 7 minutes. Alternately, feel free to mix and then knead by hand on a floured countertop. The dough should be just a bit tacky - not too dry, not too sticky to work with. If you need to add a bit more water (or flour) do so.

When you are done mixing, shape the dough into a large ball. Now cut into twelve equal-sized pieces. Gently rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a small ball and place on a plate. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes.

While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Insert a pizza stone if you have one.

When the dough is done resting, flatten one dough ball. Using a rolling pin or a pasta machine, shape into a flat strip of dough - I can usually get down to the 4 setting on my pasta machine w/o trouble. Pull the dough out a bit thinner by hand (the way you might pull pizza dough). You can also cut the dough into whatever shape you like at this point. Set dough on a floured (or cornmeal dusted) baking sheet, add any extra toppings, and slide into the oven (onto the pizza stone). Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls, baking in small batches. If you don't have a pizza stone, bake crackers a few at a time on baking sheets.

Bake until deeply golden, and let cool before eating - you will get more crackery snap.

Makes a dozen extra large crackers.

Print Recipe

These go on my 'to make' pile :) Which gets bigger every time Heidi posts a new recipe...

One down, lots to go, but at least they are going !

No More Plastic Shopping Bags for Whole Foods

GreenBiz.com, 24 January 2008 - Whole Foods Market plans to completely phase out plastic grocery bags across the company by late April.

The retail giant's 270 stores in the U.S., Canada and U.K. will instead encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. By Earth Day, or April 22, all plastic bags will be eliminated. Paper bags made from recycled fiber content will still be used.

"More and more cities and countries are beginning to place serious restrictions on single-use plastic shopping bags since they don't break down in our landfills, can harm nature by clogging waterways and endangering wildlife, and litter our roadsides," said Whole Foods Market's CEO A.C. Gallo.

The retailer will continue handing out a nickel or dime refund to shoppers whom bring their own bags, as well as sell 99 cent reusable versions.

Whole Foods first tested the program in San Francisco, Toronto and Austin. San Francisco recently banned the use of plastic shopping bags, while China made a surprise attack on their use and production.

22 January 2008

LIBRA WOMAN: - You've got an activist on your hands if you connect with this Libra Woman. This woman will stand by her convictions and principles more than any other sign (even more than a Pisces and that's saying a lot!) She's looking to balance and make the world right through her own ideals and motivations. If Libra Woman sees a wrong, UP! goes the fist in the air. She'll march, protest, join committees and voice her stance. This woman cannot stand injustice on any level, especially in her immediate vicinity. She's an air sign; therefore, she has a powerful sharp mind that is finely tuned. Libra Woman has an ethereal beauty and brains. Often times you'll see these women engaged in occupations that have to do with serving justice and they make excellent lawyers and law enforcement officials. If you see a beautiful lawyer in court, chances are she's a Libra.

Ah, don't be deceived by Libra Woman's looks. She rarely dresses overtly sultry or even sexy and probably wears very little make-up; yet there is something about her that causes men to take a second glance. Let's face it, men will look at a Libra Woman no matter what she's wearing!!! She probably wakes up looking as great as she did in the middle of the day. She has a demure charm as she tilts her head and smiles while talking. What is it about this woman!?!? She may have some idea that she is a trophy or arm candy, but that is a risk she is willing to take in order to fall in Love with an equal and friend. Remember - she is looking for balance; therefore, she is looking for an equal. If you aren't pulling your weight, you'll definitely hear about it because she does not wish to have her balanced scales tipped. Libra Woman enjoys the arts, music, anything aestically pleasing to the eye and is generally a liberal free-thinking woman. She may have some radical political views, so be ready for that debate! Her relationships are typically unconventional and she'll shy away from long-term commitments. If she does commit to you, she'll demand complete and utter fidelity. If not, she'll drag your butt into court so fast . . . (you know the rest). The motto for Libra Woman is - "Hell hath no fury like a Libra Woman scorned."

21 January 2008

Hmm, how to sell this one to the kids ...

Cabbage Soup. Well, I think it looks delishi-oso myself. But it ::is:: cabbage soup. Maybe I should call it something else ...

Rustic Cabbage Soup Recipe

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a big pinch of salt
1/2 pound potatoes, skin on, cut 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cups stock (vegetable or chicken)
1 1/2 cups white beans, precooked or canned (drained & rinsed well)
1/2 medium cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons

more good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Warm the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes - it's o.k. to uncover to stir a couple times. Stir in the garlic and onion and cook for another minute or two. Add the stock and the beans and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a couple more minutes, until the cabbage softens up a bit. Now adjust the seasoning - getting the seasoning right is important or your soup will taste flat and uninteresting. Taste and add more salt if needed, the amount of salt you will need to add will depend on how salty your stock is (varying widely between brands, homemade, etc)...

Serve drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a generous dusting of cheese.

Serves 4.

Keeping it right, straight on keel
with feet near the ground
Keeping this light, trying not to see
the spinning just going round & round

Your life is yours, and yours alone
For a short while at that
Stop hiding behind smoke and glass
Seeing the same face stare back

16 January 2008

I like the look of this ...

My new business cards (minus personal information)

Michelle Gxxxxx

Trade Commissioner / Déléguée commerciale

Extractive Industries & Energy / Pétrole et Gaz/Energie/Mines

Business Sectors Bureau & IBOC / Direction générale des secteurs commerciaux & COAI

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) /
Affaires étrangères et Commerce international Canada (MAECI)

Internet : http://www.infoexport.gc.ca

Isn't that pretty ?

14 January 2008

Playing with Mom's spice cupboard


ripped greens, diced red pepper & tomatoes, seed, nut and raisin mix (with pepitas and cranberries)

citrus flavoured olive oil
sweet hot mustard
peri peri sauce
juice from 1 orange

Sweet Potato Soup

Med heat fry chopped onions, celery
2 large sweet potatoes, 4 small potatoes
cover with water cook until soft / mash to desired consistency
cumin, savoury, sea salt, pepper, chilies
1/4 cup tomato sauce
drizzle of half n half

That was Awesome ! ♥

The incredible pace of medical technology

Scientists grow living heart from stem cells

Julie Steenhuysen
Reuters, with files from The Daily Telegraph

CHICAGO - In an unprecedented feat, U.S. researchers have created the first living artificial heart, a discovery that could one day lead to customized organ transplants for people.

The breakthrough could overcome the shortage of replacement hearts and other organs and do away with the need for anti-rejection drugs, according to the team.

"The hope would be we could generate an organ that matched your body," said Doris Taylor of the University of Minnesota Center for Cardiovascular Repair.

Her study, which appeared online yesterday in the journal Nature Medicine, offers a way to fulfil the promise of using stem cells -- the body's master cells -- to grow tailor-made organs for transplant.

Ms. Taylor and colleagues used a process called decellularization to wash away existing cells from the hearts of dead rats while leaving the basic collagen structure intact.

They injected this gelatin-like scaffold with heart cells from newborn rats, fed them a nutrient-rich solution and left them in the lab to grow.

Four days later, the hearts started to contract.

The researchers used a pacemaker to co-ordinate the contractions. They hooked up the hearts to a pump so they were being filled with fluids and added a bit of pressure to simulate blood pressure.

Eight days later, the hearts started to pump. "I have got to tell you, that was the home run," Ms. Taylor said.

Like many researchers, Ms. Taylor and colleagues had been working on a stem-cell therapy to try to heal hearts damaged by heart attacks.

Such a stem-cell therapy would pave the way to a treatment for 22 million people worldwide who live with heart failure.

A British team last month said they generated mature, beating heart cells from embryonic stem cells that could be used to make a heart patch.

Others have tried injecting heart stem cells directly into the scarred heart in the hopes of regenerating damaged tissue.

The Minnesota team took another approach.

"We recognized that nature has created the perfect scaffold and wondered whether there is a way in the lab to give nature the tools and get out of the way," Ms. Taylor said.

She and colleague Dr. Harold Ott, who is now at Massachusetts General Hospital, knew that decellularization already had been used in making tissue heart valves and blood vessels and decided to try it on whole organs.

They did the process with rat and pig hearts. But they only reported on the regeneration of the rat hearts.

"We hung these organs in the lab and we washed out all the cells. When you are done, you have this thing that looks like a ghost tissue," Ms. Taylor said.

The scaffold is made up of collagen, fibronectin and laminin.

The researchers chose immature heart cells because they thought these were most likely to work.

"The hope ultimately -- although we've got a ways to go -- is that we could take a scaffold from a pig or a cadaver and then take stem or progenitor cells from your body and actually grow a self-derived organ," she said.

Ms. Taylor said the process could be used on other organs, offering a potential new source of donor organs. It also could lead to organs that, in theory, would be less likely to be rejected by the body.

In general, the supply of donor organs is limited and once a heart is transplanted, individuals face lifelong use of anti-rejection drugs, often trading heart failure for high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney failure over the long term.

"This is an ingenious step towards solving a massive problem," Dr. Tim Chico of Britain's University of Sheffield said in a statement. "This study is very preliminary, but it does show that stem cells can regrow in the 'skeleton' of a donor heart.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

10 January 2008

Well what the heck am I supposed to make of that ?

Part of my Chinese horoscope today ...

Sweat blood in order to obtain what you want, you'll have the means for it; but beware not to walk on cadavers!

Sweat blood, okaaayyy work really hard, I get it ... but don't walk on cadavers ??? Yikes ...

8 January 2008


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.


Here I am, bit of a weary traveller
A bit of an unraveller, trying to hold together fraying seams

Here you are, bit of a bedazzler
Simplicity as your master, with no promise of dreams

try to see the road ahead ...

7 January 2008

World's First 30 Story Vertical Farm

snipped from nanotechnology news:

there is a report from next energy news that Las Vegas should have the first vertical farm by 2010 It is a $200 million project to make a 30 story building. They hope to generate $40 million per year. $25 million from produce and $15 million form tourists. However, no details about who is building it

Cool schtuff ...

Jung Personality Test

ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.

Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

6 January 2008

2008 Outlook ...

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)

You're going to organize your home and where you live in such a fabulous way, you'll be so pleased with yourself, you'll be smug. To begin with, you're going through a process of letting go of things. You're giving up people, places, possessions as well as attitudes and beliefs. This process will go on for the next two years. You're lightening up; and letting go of whatever you no longer need. Once you have decluttered your home space, then the fun part begins. That's when you'll start to buy things and rearrange furniture and implement wonderful ideas to beautify and make your home look more attractive. This really turns you on! In addition -- family relations will be happy and joyful in 2008.

5 January 2008

Chinese Horoscope today

These astral influxes will grant you the possibility to count on the help of competent and efficient people; try to show yourself worthy of their confidence; don't neglect their counsels for the benefit of those of the persons who're less well intentioned toward you and who would lead you into a dead end. Keep a close watch on the health of your children; a thorough medical checkup every semester is recommended for them. It will be absolute calm on the sentimental plane; you'll profit by it to recuperate from your recent amorous feats.