Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Becoming a Better Me

Starting in July. I decided for the next 365 days I would make a daily effort to be a little bit of a better me.

a better teacher
a better sister
a better daughter
a better member of my community
a better person
a better friend
a better mentor
a better writer

I want to see what I can accomplish when I really and truly try. I want to know what will happen if I honestly give it my all. This is me finding out.

I've started by going through my life and figuring out what I really want from it. I've adjusted things so what matters most gets the most time. Things that just aren't working out are being cut. While I have loved communicating with each of you, the sporadic nature of this blog is not what I wanted when I decided to start it.

This blog will stay open but new posts will not be coming in the near future. I am hesitant to say that I will never blog again, but for now, I will no longer consider myself a blogger.

Happy writing!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Time!

Hello all!

If any of us doubted it was summer time, we surely aren't doubting now. The temperature outside here is well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You know what that means....inside writing time!

But, before I leave here to write, I want to know what you've been up to since I abandoned this blog in pursuit of higher education. (P.S. I graduated :) So, what's new with you? Did you plant a garden? Get a new pet? Put in a swimming pool? <--- wish I did) So, let me know in the comments.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What Inspires You?

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For me, inspiration comes in a variety of ways and to list them all would take the rest of eternity. However, the biggest source of inspiration for me is the human experience. What makes a person keep trying when they've been beaten every time and the odds are still against them? What makes a person lash out to those who only offer help and support? What makes a person love certain things and detest others?

More than anything I'm curious about the differences between people; the unmeasurable kind. Two people can have the exact same life experiences and end up in two totally different places. How can that happen? Answering those questions is what propels me to write. There are  no real answers.. The only answers I'll ever get are the ones I write.

So, being naturally curious, I'm interested in what inspires you. Tell me in the comments!

Friday, September 16, 2011

World Population

Today is another Agriculture Friday. Last week I said I'd talk about the world population and what that has to do with food. A lot of people bring up the topic and start ranting about how we aren't going to have enough food to feed everyone if the projected population in 2050 is accurate. I'm not going to do that here. Is there going to be an increase in population? Yes. Should we start to panic? No. Why? Because it isn't productive and it only divides us instead of unifying us. If we end up having a problem with feeding people then we'll need to work together to figure out what we can do about it.

Agriculture has the main role in figuring out what to do. In the past few years the agriculture industry has been in the news because of the obesity epidemic and concerns about the humane treatment of livestock. Neither of those were exactly positive even though the industry isn't entirely to blame for obesity and the percent of inhumane treatment is very low. Through this bad press, I think a lot of people are forgetting it's because of the advances in agriculture that we have the food we do. If you've looked in a grocery store recently, then you also realize that there are more options available than ever. Our stores are stocked even when the fruits and vegetables aren't in season here. There really are no limits. Each day new discoveries happen and through those discoveries we will be able to put more food on the shelves.

Take corn for example: A couple decades ago would have shown a great crop at 20 bushels an acre(about the size of a football field). Today, it's around 165 bushels per acre (source). How did that happen? There are a variety of reasons but it comes down to one thing: we know more about science. We know that breeding crops is just as important as breeding animals if we want the best output. What changed in those decades was spacing between crops, number of kernels in each ear, quality of fertilizer, disease resistance plants, new information on weed resistance, new soil retention habits, creation of no-till farming, and precision farming.

In case you didn't pick up on it, a lot has changed in the way we farm and that's a good thing. It means more food for a growing population. Are there some concerns? Yes, but there are always concerns when change happens. Don't take sensationalized news reports as complete facts. Go find out both sides for yourself from objective reports and come the conclusions that make the most sense to you.

Agriculture is not always a very clean business, but it's the business that puts clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and food in your mouth. We should give it some credit. The progress it's seen in the last several decades is incredible and we're going to need even more advances if we want to keep feeding the world. Are there problems? Of course. There are in every industry.

The point is every day we change a little bit of the world. Most of us don't even realize it's changed until a few years have passed and we can see the differences. The important thing to remember is, this is our world. We can change it the way we feel best for it and all it's inhabitants. There's going to be a great big world out there, the best thing we can do is figure out how we want to live in it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Getting Back Up Again

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Today hasn't been such a great day for a variety of reasons.

1. I didn't get the placement I wanted for a particular program I'm invested in.
2. My car decided to morph into a dinosaur. We all know what happened to them.
3. My enthusiasm for my new WiP has really dipped and I'm not sure I'm going to go back to it.

The thing is, even as I'm writing this I feel a little ridiculous. My dad used to say (and still does), "If you still have all your fingers and toes, and no one has died, then it is a good day." I think I'm realizing today how true that is. I am so blessed to be able to not only work towards accomplishing one dream, but two. I live in a country where I am free to do what I want to do. I have food. I have clean water. I have shelter. Today is a good day.

I think a lot of the time we get so focused on our own lives that we forget there's another world out there. A world that could have a lot more good in it if we would stop looking at ourselves and start looking at what we can do to make it a better place.

I don't want this to be a rant. I want it to be a reminder that even if your day isn't going so well, it doesn't mean that you have to drown yourself in chocolate, lay about on the couch, or even escape into a book so that you can avoid reality. Turn your emotions into something productive--something positive.

Write that chapter you've been meaning to finish. When it's published, it could save someone's life.

Go plant a flower garden, just because you can.

Donate to a fund you've been meaning to support.

Volunteer....ANYWHERE.

Say something kind to someone. 

But most of all. Stop looking at yourself and start looking towards others. Today is a good day, let's not waste it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Antibiotics in Agriculture

Big topic today.
Controversial topic today.
Chipotle Mexican Grill has recently introduced an advertizing campaign that focuses on their decision to serve (when possible) hormone-free, anti-biotic free, locally produced food ingredients.  (As far as I know, no one is complaining about the locally produced bit of this. It saves natural resources and gives local farmers business. Win. Win.)

Why Controversy?
It's creating a stir because of the way Chipotle decided to break the news. Instead of using positive advertizing, such as "We use the freshest ingredients available, straight from your local farmers. Hormone and Anti-biotic free." And they did do some of this, they use what some would call scare tactics such as the billboards below:

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Hormones.
The hormones used are those already created in the body of the animal. So, it's not like the animals are being injected with something that has mutated from outer-space. Some dairies use hormones to increase milk production. This increase in milk production increases profit for the farmer.

Antibiotics.
What happens when an person becomes ill? They get medicine. That's exactly what happens with livestock. They need medicine, so they get it. In some practices, however, an animal will receive an antibiotic because they have been exposed to sickness. They may not have the illness yet, but they are likely to because of the exposure. This could happen when cattle are bought or sold. The farmer wants to make sure the cattle he just bought are healthy so he'll give them an antibiotic. This protects his investment from dying of illness.

Controversy.
Some believe the hormones and antibiotics used in meat and food production will transfer to humans when consumed. Their concern is that when we absorb them, they will prevent us from being able to use other antibiotics (for human consumption) effectively when we need them to fight off an illness. This is a just concern.

Common Misconceptions.
1. The farmer does not abuse animals to increase profit. The farmer depends on these animals for his/her livelihood. It makes absolutely no sense to abuse animals in any way because doing so will hurt not only their reputation, but also their bottom line. It is not the farmer's fault.
2. Farmers are not trying to suck as much money as they can from their product. You should see the average profit for a farmer. Really, you should. In fact, go here and find out. It adds up to about $11.00 an hour on average because of the amount of time it takes to run a farm. Farming is not 9 to 5 and weekends and holidays...forget about days off. If they don't feed their animals or water their crops no one will. Can you really blame the farmer for using what (according to the information available) has been proven safe to increase their profit margin a little? I can't.

This is not an issue of good guy versus bad guy. It is an issue of making a profit and keeping food safe. Both groups want the same things. The farmers need the profit to survive. The "food purists" want the farmers to make a profit too, because if the farmers don't, the purists won't eat because the farmers will not produce food for no profit. They both want safe food for consumers. A farmer without a consumer base is worthless. A product unsafe for consumesr is a waste.

Lack of quality information has everyone fighting with each other. Everyone needs more information to make educated decisions. If the farmers can use antibiotics and hormones without harming the food's safety or the animal's well-being, why should they be stopped? If the hormones and antibiotics are not safe, why aren't they and what can we do to make sure they are safe? What other treatments can be provided at a reasonable cost so the animal doesn't have to suffer through an illness? The problem is we don't have the answers to all of these questions. Meanwhile, neither group is willing to budge.

This, my friends, is what I call a mess. We haven't even gotten to the good part. See next Friday's agriculture topic on the growing population and what that means for "feeding the world."

For now, what do you think about Chipotle's new advertizing? Opinions on hormones and antibiotics in food products?

*As this is a highly controversial topic, all comments are expected to be respectful. Any commentators using vulgar language or opinion bashing will have their comments deleted. 

*Discussion is encouraged. New, accurate information sharing is encouraged. Please provide supporting information from quality websites or other resources if available.

I would also like to add the information on the Chipotle.com site is not accurate. They say they want, "naturally raised" animals. However, on the pork page they say their pigs "are fed a vegetarian diet." By their own nature, pigs are omnivores, like us. Meaning, they eat both animal and vegetable products. Therefore, Chipotle producers are not "naturally raising" their hogs by their own definition. If they were, the hogs would be omnivores, not herbivores. Goes to show, ignorance is everywhere. Be careful what you read and more importantly, what you believe.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Book Bigotry

A couple days ago I read a post at Silver Lining (see here) by Julie Dao about people dissing certain books they believe are unsuited for reading because they are modern or not in a particular person's taste. I'd highly recommend reading it...no, really. Go HERE now.

I'd just like to say, "Calm down. It's a book, not the end of the world."

There are some books that some of us are going to say are pretty much the worst thing that ever hit the shelves, but for others that book will change their lives or bring them back into reading for pleasure again. By dissing books we don't like, we're dissing ourselves.

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Don't mistake me. If I don't like a book, I'll make my opinion known, but I'll also keep an open mind that other people might like it. This is why I think slightly impartial book reviewers are the best.They give the basics, their opinion, and who'd they'd recommend it to. Forget the point system...forever. It's too opinion based.

They follow this system:
1. Read
2. Form Opinion
3. Recommend to Others

Simple, right? Those three steps aren't going to change even if the reviewer really doesn't like the book. I believe there are elements in every book that we can find that other people would enjoy or that we can learn from.

Exhibit A: Twilight
My Opinion: eh, interesting storyline, little intense on romance, way too many adverbs, slightly pathetic/annoying main character, overall alright.
Recommendation: Teenage girls, fun weekend read when you're bored

There are thousands of books out there. Not all of them are going to be classics or connect with you but that doesn't mean they're bad for everyone. Tolerance my friends, tolerance.

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Any books you've read lately that others diss but you really like? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Also, wish my writing buddy, Marin, a happy 21st birthday! Couldn't do it without you, girl!