Saturday, November 20, 2010

Its a Hard Life

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Robin is dead

We had to go ahead and put Robin to sleep a couple of weeks ago. The spinal damage from Valley Fever was so extensive that I couldnt keep her comfortable even with combined steroids and pain killers. We did it at home because she had become so scared of going to the vet, and burined her up by the garage.
My wonderful niece and her daughter
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

AlterNet: 3 Lies Big Food Wants You to Believe and the Truth Behind Factory-'Farmed' Meat

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3 Lies Big Food Wants You to Believe and the Truth Behind Factory-'Farmed' Meat

Most of the meat Americans consume is from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, which are horrific for animals and terrible for our health and our communities.

AlterNet: 8 Nasty Conservative Lies About the Democrats and Obama That Must Be Debunked Before the Election

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This is important!!!

8 Nasty Conservative Lies About the Democrats and Obama That Must Be Debunked Before the Election

The public has been misled on a ton of issues like tax cuts, the deficit, the economy, and the cost of health care.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Robin has Valley Fever too

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I'm sorry. It seems the only time you ever hear from me is when I have bad news. Robin has been diagnosed with Valley Fever, and it is quite advanced already. Unlike Sam, she never had any lung problems or vomiting, so we never knew anything was really wrong until she went totally lame over the last 6 weeks. It has gotten into her spine and gives her neurological problems as well as pain. She staggers when she walks and doesn't seem to have a lot of feeling in her feet. I actually first took her to the vet saying that she had started acting like she has fibromyalgia. The original diagnosis was a pinched nerve in her neck but they did a Valley Fever test just to be on the safe side since she hasn't been tested since she was about 6 months old. And she will be 4 in December.
Giving her meds has always been a traumatic process since she wont eat anything with a pill hidden in it and if there is too much powdered med mixed in with her wet food, she wont eat that either. But I think we finally have that problem licked, by putting a dab of peanut butter with a pill in it on the roof of her mouth. She has no choice; the medicine goes down with the peanut butter and she cant spit it out. I have been at my wits end trying to doctor her before discovering that; she HAS to have pain meds and prednisone to keep her comfortable, as well as the fluconazole to kill the spores. I was getting very close to putting her to sleep, with her in so much pain and the only way to doctor her was to shove each pill down her tiny little throat with my fingers. Now I hope we can see see some improvement soon, although my vet says she may have to stay on the prednisone. I don't think she will ever return to normal activity but as long as she acts happy that's livable.
The vet actually gave me a referral to a veterinary neurologist who will immediately order a CT-scan to judge the extent of spinal involvement but I don't think we will go. The last few years have been very scary financially (we were both laid off in late 2007) and I have only since June gotten back my health insurance and a good job in the ER at a Banner Hospital. Bill turns 65 tomorrow so he finally has Medicare. Things are looking up finally except for this. Sam is still in remission; we had a titer done on him because of all this but he is still in remission. Thank goodness.
And its not like a CT-scan is needed to make a proper diagnosis. The blood test made the diagnosis. I cant spend $1000 to find out something I already know, and darn it is too late for pet health insurance. You can bet I will carry it on any future dogs; I can even have a payroll deduction through my employer.
I hope you and yours are all fine and thriving.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Robin is very ill

I had to take Robin to the vet again yesterday, as she has been in so much pain she actually cries, and she is too weak to really get around.
The vet thinks the Valley Fever may have already gotten into her spine, as she is very sore from neck all the way back to hips, and she is showing many neurological signs as well. She staggers and wobbles when she walks, she cant put her head down, and she doesnt seem to have a lot of feeling in her feet. They also just slide out from under her when she tries to sit or lie down. It is pitiful.
ANyway, the vet gave me a referral to a veterinary neurologist and said she needs a CT-scan to really figure whether it is Valley Fever or some other spinal problem.
I dont see what difference it makes WHAT is causing it if the treatment is the same.
Rest, pain drugs, valley fever meds, prednisone.
See how it goes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bloglines - Are We Really Going to Eat Genetically Modified Salmon?

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THis has got to be stopped!

The Greenest Dollar
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Are We Really Going to Eat Genetically Modified Salmon?

By heather on Health

Image courtesy Wikipedia

So the FDA is currently weighing whether or not to approve genetically modified salmon. I heard this on NPR the other night as I was cooking dinner.

Let me repeat.

The FDA is actually thinking about approving the first genetically modified animal for human consumption.

How many ways can I say this is a bad idea? Before I hop onto my soapbox, however, let's look at the facts.

Why the Salmon is Being Modified…

So apparently, the world eats a lot of salmon. I'm a vegetarian, but even I can say that yes, back when I was eating meat, salmon was delicious. And I'm not alone in that assessment.

AquaBounty Technologies is the company behind the genetically modified salmon. They've created salmon that grows to market size twice as fast as regular fish. This, of course, will help keep up with demand.

So how, exactly, is the salmon being modified?

Here's what Professor ANNE KAPUSCINSKI (Professor of Sustainability Science, Dartmouth College) had to say about it on the NPR interview:

The company that's developed these fish has inserted two genes. One gene is for growth hormone, and it's almost identical to the growth hormone gene that's already in these salmon.

And then the other gene acts like a little switch. It's a piece of DNA that comes from another fish, from the ocean pout, and it's normally connected to the gene that produces antifreeze protein in that fish.

In the case of these salmon, they've just taken the part of the DNA that acts like a switch, and that switch turns on the gene that produces the growth hormone so that the salmon will produce growth hormone in its tissues throughout the year, whereas a conventional salmon only produces growth hormone during the warmer times of the year, when the water temperatures are warmer.

Why This is Such a Bad Idea…

Most of us have figured out by now that whatever we put in our food (or food storage containers, or products we use daily) generally ends up in us.

A good example is the recent article in the Huffington Post. Here's the headline: Female Infants Growing Breasts: Another Disaster from Hormones in Milk Production.

If you haven't read that article, please do. It's a shocking expose of just how harmful commercially produced milk and cheese is for us.

Another good example? The high levels of BPA that pretty much all of us have in our systems from canned food liners. Or the antibiotics in chickens. The chemicals in dryer sheets.

I could keep going, but you get the picture. Whatever we consume, whatever we touch regularly, whatever we breathe, goes into our systems. And the same has got to be true with genetically modified salmon. If we're eating salmon that has been genetically modified to grow faster, is there a chance that it could somehow affect us the same way?

I'm not a scientist. But I do know that the FDA isn't always right about what they approve. And history has shown that when we start modifying nature to fit our needs, it doesn't turn out well.

The Center for Food Safety also has some serious concerns about this genetically modified salmon. One of their biggest concerns is this: genetically modified salmon will be more susceptible to disease, so they're likely going to have to have more antibiotics than regularly farmed salmon.

When we eat the salmon, we're going to be eating all those extra antibiotics as well.

Not good.

The Data's Coming From the Company…

Another major oversight here.

The data the FDA is using to decide if this genetically modified salmon is safe or not comes directly from AquaBounty Technologies.

That's right. The company is supplying 100% of the data that claims "Yes! This is safe to eat!"

This is a huge, HUGE conflict of interest.

Here's the exact quote, from the NPR interview:

The FDA asked the company to present data on several issues. First of all, is the inserted gene safe for the health of the animal? Is the inserted gene and the growth hormone it's producing safe for humans to eat the fish? And third, will the farming of these fish have any effects on the environment?

They are not required to conclude that they're environmentally safe, and that's the only condition under which to approve them. That law just requires an environmental assessment, basically figuring out what would be the effect on the quality of the human environment.

BLOCK: And you're saying they're asking the company for that data. This is information coming directly from the company that's producing the fish?

Prof. KAPUSCINSKI: Yes. It's the applicant or the company that's responsible for producing the data. That's the way it works under the drug law that is being used to regulate genetically modified animals, including these fish.

Another thing?

This data isn't available to the public. That includes other scientists.

We Won't Know the Salmon is Modified…

The FDA hasn't made a final decision about labeling. But the professor being interviewed at NPR says that, reading between the lines of the report, the company is pushing for no labeling. This means we would have no way of knowing if the salmon we were buying, or eating in a restaurant, was genetically modified or not.

What We Can Do…

We have a very limited time to oppose genetically modified salmon.

You can click here to send an email through the Center for Food Safety's website. The agency will be collecting all the emails and will present them at the FDA hearing on Sept. 19.

If the bill does happen to pass, and you're concerned about its safety, then you can skip eating it. Eating less meat, including salmon, is not only better for you but it's better for the environment.

What do you guys think? Are you willing to eat genetically modified salmon? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!



Friday, September 10, 2010

Bloglines - 7 Steps To Eliminating Joint Pain

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Words to the wise.

Zen to Fitness

7 Steps To Eliminating Joint Pain

By Chris on Vitamin D

11,750 Foot Yoga Moment

Young or old we all experience joint pain at sometimes in our lives. Be it from too exercise that is too strenous, an awkward move or simply the degeneration of our joints with age. Fortunatly there are several things we can so to reduce this pain and even eliminate it.

Joint pain is usually a result of a slight level of inflammation, a low grade inflammation around the body which can cause joints to ache. Inflamattion has many potential causes:

  • Over Exercising
  • Dietery triggers
  • Age
  • General Stress

And of course joint pain could also be result of Osteoarthiritis which is common in those above 65. Either way the tips I am about to mention can help you, they are also general guidelines that can help improve your health in general.

1- Exercise Consistently. Some sort of weight bearing exercise should be implemented as well as a low grade general form of exercise such as; Biking, Walking, Gardening, Hiking etc. Weight bearing exercise can strengthen bones through and increased production of Osteoblasts (bone builders).

2- Limit Wheat Consumption. Now I am not one to demonize wheat or tell you to stop eating it, but there is a good amount of research to show that in high enough doses wheat can cause joint inflammation and potentially lead to joint issues.

So what is your best bet? Go for the least refined product you can, and ideally something that has been prepared in a traditional way (which reduces the anti-nutrients) think sourdough or sprouted bread. Secondly slightly limit consumption – I feel the real problem with wheat comes not from eating it every now and then, but rather when it becomes a staple being consumed several times a day. There are an abundance of other non inflammatory sources of starch to be had like Corn, Roots, Brown Rice, and Quinoa…. Besides variety in diet is key.

3- Stretch/Mobility. As I haven mentioned in several previous articles stretching and mobility work is hugely important to maintaining and developing joint health. This is because it releases tightness in the muscles surrounding the joints, not only this but it allows more freedom in blood flow to the joints and therefore allows them to maintain their elasticity and mobility.

I had a friend who solved years of lower back pain just by implementing a regular and thorough stretching routine, focusing on the hamstrings. With times this seems to somehow strengthen the muscles and increase blood flow healing up the long standing injury. To me this is one of the reasons Yoga can work wonders on sports injuries.

4- Stress Reduction. General stress can also be a huge factor when it comes to inflammation - This doesn't just mean a stressful job, but it could be relationships, money problems, over exercising, not enough sleep, or just dealing with small stressors badly. Being chronically stressed to some level will increase the cortisol levels in your body and cause a chronic low grade level of inflammation. On top of causing joint pain this can also lead to several other health problems.

The solution is quite simply to find the main stressors in your life and do your best to deal with them. While this is not always easy it is one of the first areas to address when attempting to lead a healthy lifestyle.

5- Get your Vitamin D. A low intake of Vitamin D has been shown to lead to osteoarthiritis – Vitamin D is critical to calcium absorption in the body and most of the worlds population are at chronically low levels. I did a post a few months ago on ways to tan without blocking Vitamin D absorption. The best way to get Vitamin D is from sunlight, so supplements maybe worthwhile in the winter to keep levels topped up. So take every chance you have to get some sun…..

6- Keep Omega 6 intake Down. A high intake of Omega-6 fatty acids will increase blood concentrations of Interluekin-6 which is basically has a pretty substantial inflammatory effect on the body. It also seems to have a profound effect on down regulating the thyroid function. In a nut shell:

Avoid Vegetable Oils when possible (corn, soybean, canola, rapeseed) and. Use animal fat, butter, olive oil, and coconut oil instead, and eat plenty of fatty fish or take fish oil on occassion to balance out with Omega-3′s.

This stuff is nearly everywhere so make sure you read labels and make sure products are made with high quality oils/fats. This can be hard sometimes and its not something to get obsessed with but just a general guideline for better health.

7- Eat Spices. Specifically turmeric, which thanks to its curcumin has a potent anti-inflammatory effect on the body. What is interesting is that the specific anti-oxidants in turmeric seem to have a unique effect on arthritis of all forms.

It would be great to hear from readers who have suffered with some sort of joint problems and have overcome them. Tips and tricks from people who have actually lived it are invaluable.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Judge Bans Gentically-Modified Beets

Judge Bans Gentically-Modified Beets

Hello, I saw this on Care2 and thought you'd like it as well. Care2 is the largest and most trusted information and action site for people who care to make a difference in their lives and the world.

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The Wastefulness of Decluttering; or How to Make Less Count for More

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This man is so smart

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

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The importance of enjoying the habit

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Always intelligent advice

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Bloglines - How to Use Fiber to Improve Your Health

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More things to keep in mind

Zen to Fitness

How to Use Fiber to Improve Your Health

By Chris on Fitness


We hear so much about fiber and its effects on our general health, digestion and keeping our bowels healthy. What we don't hear too much about are the ways that fiber can improve our health in other aspects like reducing fat gain and regulating appetite. To me this is a hugely interesting topic as there seem to be certain types of fiber that can accelerate fat loss, stop fat gain and even lowering our body weight set point while improving our satiety when eating.

Fiber is pretty much indigestible starch, it is a form of carbohydrate that our bodies cannot break down. Therefore it passes through our digestive tract without being absorbed by the body and used as energy. Foods rich in fiber are things like:

  • Pulses and Legumes
  • Unprocessed Grains
  • Fruit and Vegetables

And the things with little or no fiber are meat and fat based products. This post is not another call to eat high fiber foods to gain the conventional benefits that I am sure you have all read about before, but rather to show some of the different ways you can use the unique sources of fiber that nature provides for sustainable health benefits……

So how can we use fiber to our benefit and which types of fiber should we be aiming to eat on a regular basis to gain these benefits?

Resistant Starch - This is the first thing that I came across when reading about this topic and by far the most interesting. Resistant starch is basically another soluble fiber, but the interesting thing is that their are 4 levels of this type of fiber and each one provides a different benefit.

The most interesting of the bunch is what is called Resistant Starch Type 3 which was coined to describe starchy foods which need to be cooked to be edible to humans (legumes, grains, potatoes etc..) the secret to this type of resistant starch is the benefit when cooled down as the properties change and the benefits are amplified. The unique undigestible element in these foods has been shown in numerous studies to:

These are some pretty astounding beenfits from simply eating whole unprocessed carbohydrates and goes to show why ancient cultures thrived eating these foods regularly. It even leads towards why one of the leading causes of bad health and obesity around the world is probably due to the rising consumption of processed grains and other carbohydrates that have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients – Therefore stripping people of the benefits mentioned above, which could go a long way to improving health and stopping excess weight gain.

Oligo-Fructose - This weird sounding fiber is a slightly different animal to resistant starch in that it is found in other foods and works slightly differently all be it to give simular benefits. Oligo-Fructose os cointed as a "pre-biotic" which Unlike "pro-biotics", 'live' bacteria products which add healthy flora to the gut, prebiotics don't replace bacteria but help feed up the 'good' bacteria in the digestive tract.

These to improve the guts general health. It has been shown that regular consumption of oligofructose whether from supplementation or diet works towards fat loss without any other changes in diet. It seems to work by improving out guts health which also leads to better glucose tolerance and satiety when eating. These will leads to a natural desire to eat less food.

Pectin - Apple pectin is the best source and one of the main reasons I recommend an apple a day. Pectin is a sort of soluble fiber which works in simular way to the two fibers mentioned above, it is the reason apple's make for such a satisfying snack and can provide fullness and satiety for hours. Apple pectin is contained in the skin of the apple (so no peeling) and works to create a gel like substance in our guts which is not only soothing to the gut lining but provides benefits again in blood glucose management.

Using this knowledge to our benefit….

So the big question is how exactly can we best apply this theory to practice? Well thankfully the answer is pretty simple, in that we should get the vast majority of our carbohydrates from unprocessed, unrefined foods which will supply resistant starch and pre-biotics in abundance. Another option is to buy some oligofructose powder which is pretty cheap and actually tastes pretty nice and sweet. This can be sprinkled on foods or into things like soup to get the benefits (don't use too much though as it has the tendency to cause gas when used in excess)

Apart from supplements the foods you should focus on are the following:

  • Potatoes
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Bananas which are not overly ripened (more resistant starch)
  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Chicory root
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Jicama

These foods contain resistant starch, oligofructose and pectin. To get the most benefits of resistant starch try to eat a few meals a week which consist of root vegetables or legumes which have been cooled to room temperature. Cooking things like potato salad or lentil salads, this allows the starch to reach its most effective stage and provide the most benefits compared to when these foods are hot.

There you have it, another piece of nutrition knowledge to use in your quest to improved health and vitality…….

If you enjoyed this article, please checkout my book A Simple Guide to Eating Well and you also can follow me on Twitter.

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Bloglines - Simplify Your Health & Fitness Habits

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Words to the wise

Zen to Fitness

Simplify Your Health & Fitness Habits

By Chris on Simplicity

[add wish here]

This is a guest post by Chris Stroud. You can read more from Chris at Live Simply and find him on twitter @livesimplyblog

I am in love with the idea and practice of living a simpler life. It allows me to avoid much of the superfluous distractions that surrounds me and allows me to focus more on the things in life that are most important to me; Health and Fitness being towards the top of that list.

In my last 10 years of Strength and Conditioning I have done Bodybuilding, got a degree in Kinesiology, currently compete in Crossfit and Olympic Lifting, and over the last 3 years have maintained 7-8 percent bodyfat. The most important thing I have learned from these experiences is that simpler is almost always better.

Instead of adding complexity to the way you manage your Heath and Fitness here are 5 ways to make it simpler.

1 – Think Long Term. The underlying purpose of why we train is so that we can maintain able bodies and minds for as long as possible. The sports we play, exercise methods we us, and dietary advice we adhere to are habits we form so that can live longer and be happy. When deciding how to eat and how to train take into consideration the long term feasibility, economics, and benefits by doing your due diligence by researching before partaking. This will make things simpler by being able to sift through the plethora of bull shit that is all to prevalent in the Health and Fitness industry.

2 – What you put in your pie hole. You know exactly what you should be eating. Food that is as close to its most natural state as possible. Meat, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds. If you can dig it from the ground, pick it from a tree, or kill it with a stick then its likely a healthy choice. it gets increasingly complex with you start introducing supplements and processed food to your diet while attempting to maintain a certain level of well-being. Focus on developing habits and a lifestyle that makes it easy to eat natural foods. Only keep natural foods in the house, go to farmers markets, and only drink water, black coffee, and tea.

3 – Maintain your Strength. Remember, we train so keep able mind and bodies as long as possible. A very important tool we have for accomplishing that is to develop and preserve as much strength for as long as we can. There is a myriad of different protocols to build strength and a good program will at the very least have a good portion of these core exercises.

  • Weightlifting: Squats, pressing, and deadifts.
  • Gymnastics: Pull ups, Push ups, and maybe air squats.
  • Endurance: Swim, Bike, Run, or Row.

This is a overly simplistic way to evaluate a exercise program, even for this article, but that's the point I'm advocating. Simplicity! A simple routine is more manageable in the long term than perpetually compounding it with complexity. You should aim to be able to do this activities for your entire life.

4 – Remove temptations from the Kitchen. Here are a few rules I follow that help me stay paleo.

  • Only keep Paleo food in the house.
  • When I want a treat i'll go out, eat it, but wont bring it home.
  • Always keep cooked meat or marinated meat in the fridge. I find that having protein around and easy to get to keeps me eating clean.
  • Go to the farmers market once a week and get what ever is in season.

5 – Enjoy it. You are lucky to be a healthy, athletic, vigorous person. Your health is one of the great joys of being alive. Do fun things like taking adult gymnastic classes, dance lessons, hiking, swimming, rock climbing, paddling, and just learning new sports and skills in general.

Thanks to Chris for writing this post, I love his blog redesign and the new content is amazing! I just got back from Holiday and have some cool stuff to blog about, so keep checking back….

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

7 Simple Ways To Say "No"

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Springfield Closed Back

Springfield Closed Back
Cant decide. I have a high instep so open back clogs usually fit me better, but the dress code at work for me requires closed back shoes. I am reluctant to invest in something like Dansko clogs, much more expensive, since Mary Lou told me that hers were really too tight across the instep, and she wears the same size I do. What to do.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

So what approach to take?

My Dh, who has always been somewhat difficult, is truly becoming impossible to live with since his medical problem jus a week ago. He seems to feel that he has lost control of his life and is trying to remedy that by attempting to control every little thing that goes on around him.
That translates to trying to control me, everything I do or say, even super control of the already very obedient dogs.
For instance, when I got home last night, I gathered up my stuff and went to the back of the car to get the cat food and stuff I had bought. The neighbor was there, and Dh was there, so I figured they could carry the stuff down the hill. Dh slammed the car hatch and very harshly said he would get the stuff later. Of course, in the course of the evening he went up the hill several times and never did get the stuff, so I eventually had to go get it myself in the dark.. That of course made him even madder. At me of course, not at himself for acting like an ass in the first place.
Then when I was trying to get ready for bed, since I had to get up at 4 AM, I asked him if I could turn off the light in the hall and in his bathroom so I could go to sleep. Big mistake; he had to yell about how I wasnt going to control everything that goes on. He slammed around for at least another hour and kept all the lights on whether he was in the bathroom and hall or not, just to spite me I guess.
I had already taken my sleeping pill, so did eventually go to sleep. But it was only able to give me 2 solid hours before the leftover adrenalin fought its way back to the top and woke me up for the rest of the night. And I am now having to work a 12 hour shift on 2 hours sleep.
And then fight again when I get home I'm sure. Exhausts me even more just thinking about it. I dont know what to do.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Another rattlesnake

Killed another rattlesnake last night, at dusk. That is the fifth one in 10 days. This one was crossing the open ground between the shed and one of the chicken yards. A bigger one than we have been seeing too. Scary. Sam heads for the house as soon as you say "SNAKE", but dumb Robin just doesn't get it. The only thing to do with her is scoop her up and keep her out of the way until it is killed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rattlesnakes everywhere

In the last week we have killed 4 rattlesnakes, 3 of them right around our shed and one in a chicken yard. The one killed (we hope) under the shed has been there for weeks, rattling away whenever there was any activity around the recycling barrels but staying back where he couldnt be reached with a shovel.. Dh finally got tired of it, and shot the .410 under there twice, silencing him the second time. Hopefully that is the end of the problem, although they probably hatched a whole nest of them under there and this will keep happening for years. Perish the thought!

Layout of postage stamp

A terrible picture, but this is how far I am on the postage stamp quilt. I need to make 4 more blocks of 16 small blocks each. I am so burned out on this project.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Bloglines - Test your knowledge of cosmetics safety: 8 myths debunked

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more about cosmetics

Environmental connections to public health

Test your knowledge of cosmetics safety: 8 myths debunked

By Lisa Frack

skindeepguide_inset.gifThe new Story of Cosmetics video explains why personal care products in the United States contain untested and downright dangerous ingredients.

The (very) good news is the U.S. House of Representatives just introduced a bill to fix all that. But in the meantime (until they pass it!), make sure you don't fall prey to these common myths:

1. Myth: If products are for sale at a supermarket, drugstore, or department store cosmetics counter, they must be safe.

Fact: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to require companies to assess ingredients or products for safety. FDA does not review or approve the vast majority of cosmetic products or ingredients before they go on the market. The agency conducts pre-market reviews only for certain color additives and active ingredients in cosmetics classified as over-the-counter drugs.

2. Myth: The cosmetics industry effectively polices itself, making sure all ingredients meet a strict standard of safety.

Fact: In its more than 30-year history, the industry's safety panel (the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, or CIR) has assessed fewer than 20 percent of cosmetics ingredients and found only a handful of ingredients or chemical groups to be unsafe. Its recommendations are not binding on companies.

3. Myth: The government prohibits dangerous chemicals in personal care products, and companies wouldn't risk using them.

Fact: Cosmetics companies may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances (such as vinyl chloride and cow parts), without government review or approval.

  • More than 500 products sold in the U.S. contain ingredients banned in cosmetics in Japan, Canada or the European Union.

  • Nearly 100 products contain ingredients considered unsafe by the International Fragrance Association.

  • A wide range of nanomaterials whose safety is in question may be common in personal care products.

  • 22% of all personal care products may be contaminated with the cancer-causing impurity

  • 1,4-dioxane, including many children's products.

  • 60% of sunscreens contain the potential hormone disruptor oxybenzone that readily penetrates the skin and contaminates the bodies of 97% of Americans.

  • 61% of tested lipstick brands contain residues of lead.

4. Myth: Cosmetic ingredients are applied to the skin and rarely get into the body. When they do, levels are too low to matter.

Fact: People are exposed by breathing in sprays and powders, swallowing chemicals on the lips or hands or absorbing them through the skin. Studies find evidence of health risks. Biomonitoring studies have found cosmetics ingredients - like phthalate plasticizers, paraben preservatives, the pesticide triclosan, synthetic musks, and sunscreens - inside the bodily fluids of men, women, children and even the cord blood of newborn babies.

Many of these chemicals are potential hormone disruptors that may increase cancer risk. Products commonly contain penetration enhancers to drive ingredients deeper into the skin. Studies find health problems in people exposed to common fragrance and sunscreen ingredients, including elevated risk for sperm damage, feminization of the male reproductive system, and low birth weight in girls.

5. Myth: Products made for children or bearing claims like "hypoallergenic" are safer choices.

Fact: Most cosmetic marketing claims are unregulated, and companies are rarely if ever required to back them up, even for children's products. A company can use a claim like "hypoallergenic" or "natural" "to mean anything or nothing at all," and while "[m]ost of the terms have considerable market value in promoting cosmetic products to consumers, dermatologists say they have very little medical meaning."

An investigation of more than 1,700 children's body care products found that 81 percent of those marked "gentle" or "hypoallergenic" contained allergens or skin and eye irritants.

6. Myth: FDA would promptly recall any product that injures people.

Fact: FDA has no authority to require recalls of harmful cosmetics. Furthermore, manufacturers are not required to report cosmetics-related injuries to the agency. FDA relies on companies to report injuries voluntarily.

7. Myth: Consumers can read ingredient labels and avoid products with hazardous chemicals.

Fact: Federal law allows companies to leave many chemicals off labels, including nanomaterials, contaminants, and components of fragrance. Fragrance may include any of 3,163 different chemicals, none of which are required to be listed on labels. Fragrance tests reveal an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including potential hormone disruptors and diethyl phthalate, a compound linked to sperm damage.

8. Myth: Cosmetics safety is a concern for women only.

Fact: Surveys show that on average, women use 12 products containing 168 ingredients every day, men use 6 products with 85 ingredients, 35 and children are exposed to an average of 61 ingredients daily. The large majority of these chemicals have not been assessed for safety by the industry-funded CIR safety panel.

References are available when you download the pdf here.

Bloglines - A personal response to the President's Cancer Panel Report

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Scary stuff

Environmental connections to public health

A personal response to the President's Cancer Panel Report

By Lisa Frack

MyPicture - small for EB.jpgSpecial to Enviroblog by Heidi Hutner, Associate Professor of English and Women's Studies at SUNY Stony Brook.

The 2009 President's Cancer Panel report, "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, What We Can Do Now," confirms what Rachel Carson articulated in Silent Spring and what Sandra Steingraber argued in her book, Living Downstream.

Toxic chemicals in our bodies, in random combinations based on exposures starting before we're born, are "linked to genetic, immune and endocrine dysfunction that can lead to cancer and other diseases."

Translation: many toxics cause cancer. The authors of the latest President's Cancel Panel Annual Report cannot say this outright because of the way scientific studies work and because our country has not invested nearly enough money in studying the relationship of toxics to human health (cancer specifically). We don't yet have complete enough national databases and precise enough methods of measurement to draw definitive conclusions.

But the authors of the President's Cancer Panel report certainly come up with a clear case, and they offer many examples of how and where we exposed to dangerous toxics and what needs to be changed. We do know enough, they suggest, we've studied enough, to be able to say that the evidence all points to the fact that our bodies are full of toxic junk that can cause cancer and, often, premature death.

Women's bodies tend to have larger amounts of these toxins, and they are passed to their unborn children through the placenta and later through breast milk. Children are born with their bodies already full of toxics. Their umbilical cord blood tells us this. Their little bodies are at special risk because of their smaller body mass and rapid physical growth, both of which make them more vulnerable to carcinogens.

I have waited for this official report for years.

There is a whole lot of cancer in my family on both sides. None of it seems to make sense. In 1994, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. I was 35. My mother was diagnosed with lymphoma when I was 32, and my father died from melanoma when I was 28. My paternal first cousin, who never smoked, died from lung cancer at 45. Two of my maternal first cousins have had early stage melanomas. My mother's younger sister died from breast cancer.

Recently, I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. The latter is a minor cancer, but it is cancer nonetheless, and with my father's fatal melanoma history, I don't go outside much in the daylight anymore. These cancers seem unrelated and random, and thus potentially a result of environmental rather than genetic history: melanoma is on opposite sides of my family (father and maternal cousins), and lung cancer is on opposite sides of my family as well (paternal cousin, maternal aunt)--so there does not appear to be a genetic connection there, and in my own immediate nuclear family--my mother, father, and I had three different types of cancer.

To top it all off, I am at high risk for secondary cancers because I have had more than 11 CAT scans as part of my Hodgkin's treatment and follow-up. The President's Cancer Panel report tells us:

"People who receive multiple scans or other tests that require radiation may accumulate doses equal to or exceeding that of Hiroshima atomic bomb survivors. It is believed that a single large dose of ionizing radiation and numerous low doses equal to the single large dose have much the same effect on the body over time."

Let me repeat, I have had 11 of these tests. Did the benefits of that many tests outweigh the dangers posed? Was I informed about the dangers of such tests at the time they were given to me? Would I have had so many CAT scans had I known what I know now?

No, no and no.

Unfortunately, I'm not the only one -- that's for sure. Forty-one percent of all Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Twenty-one percent will die from it. My neighbor across the street -- a 40-something father of two -- is dying of lung cancer. I used to hear him playing basketball with his 12-year-old daughter. He has tried every cancer treatment available, including experimental protocols, but the prognosis is grim. I don't hear the sounds of basketball anymore.

Two women in my immediate neighborhood have had their breasts removed. Several other immediate neighbors have passed away from breast and other cancers. These people are all in their mid-40s and younger. The story of my neighborhood is the story of every neighborhood, and cancer doesn't just strike adults. I know several children who have had it. Some survived, some did not. Today, this is everyone's story.

So the report is out. It comes from on high. We can fight the invasion of the body-snatcher toxins and radiation as individuals to some degree -- if we have the knowledge and economic means -- by eating organic food, using nontoxic cosmetics and cleaning products, avoiding unnecessary X-rays and CAT scans and working in relatively safe environments. Still, private and individual acts of prevention are not enough.

The authors of the President's Cancer Panel report argue that our nation needs a comprehensive strategy for eliminating cancer-causing environmental exposures. Poison often knows no borders -- it can travel and bio-accumulate -- wreaking havoc on the health of all species. Cancer strikes people of all genders, classes, ethnicities, and races. The poor, people working and living in environments with toxic and hazardous materials, and women and children are the hardest it, but we are all vulnerable to carcinogenic pollution.

Will our government (and all governments) make the radical changes called for in this study? Senator Frank Lautenberg's proposed Safe Chemicals Act of 2010 is an important first step.

As Americans, we need to ensure this act passes, and many more like it. It is time for us to follow the wise precautionary principle that has been adopted by the European Union.

As citizens, we must mobilize to ensure that our government enacts preventative measures to protect the health of our children and all living beings.

Will we do so? We must.

Ms. Hutner teaches and writes about ecofeminism, environmentalism, women writers and film. She is a mother and a cancer survivor who blogs here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

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How to be Insanely Productive and Still Keep Smiling

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Another great column

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Its a Start!

My Armenian cucumbers are growing on the left. You cant see here but they are flowering merrily away. No baby cukes yet, though. I think it is too hot to
set fruit yet. My chinese pole beans, 2 of them, are trying to grow on the right but not tall enough to tie to the trellis yet by any means.
The trellis is the wrought iron from an old security door we had found here on the property and should work very well. When I take out the logs and fill up the other side of the tank with dirt, I will just leave the trellis in place and the dirt on both sides will hold it up. Good plan.
Yesterday I transplanted some sweet basil seedlings to the center front and ensalada tomato seedling in the center middle. I have cut off clear plastic bottle/jars over them to keep the humidity up around them and protect them from the worst of the excess sun. They are doing well so far, and since I gave up on the other peat pots ever sprouting anything, I noticed this morning that seeds have sprouted in both the patio pot tomatos and the early girl. So those will be moved up to the stock tank garden in a few days.
I also ordered several different kinds of heirloom tomato seeds from Seed to plant, so I should have lots of tomato plants by the time it cools enough for them to set fruit. Cant wait. Iwant to can and can tomatoes in jars so that I never have to use canned tomatoes with the Bisphenol-A lining again.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Bloglines - Why You Should Cancel Your Cable

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Threw away the whole darn thing in 1989. Maybe a few people are finally beginning to figure out why.

The Greenest Dollar
Learn easy tips to save money and go green!

Why You Should Cancel Your Cable

By heather on Simple Living

Just think about this statistic a moment:

CNN reports American TV watching is at an all time high. We watch, on average, 151 hours of TV per month. That's over 5 hours per day.

So what's that got to do with the environment? Well, a lot, actually. Just give me a minute.

First, I read a really fascinating article over at Treehugger today. What about?

Well, it was a good news/bad news kind of article. The good news? World populations are declining pretty rapidly as more people, even in developing countries, have fewer children. For the environment, this is good news.

The bad news? Our increasing thirst for consumption is a much bigger problem than we're realizing.

Here is author Fred Pearce's take on the issue:

Virtually all of the remaining population growth is in the poor world, and the poor half of the planet is only responsible for 7 percent of carbon emissions.
The carbon emissions of one American today are equivalent to those of around four Chinese, 20 Indians, 40 Nigerians, or 250 Ethiopians.

This are some sobering statistics to be sure.

So What Does Cable TV Have To Do With It?

Think about what happens when we watch cable TV.

Usually, we see these things:

  • Ads for products we want
  • Ads for products we didn't know we wanted
  • Ads for products we need
  • Ads for products we didn't realize we needed

You can see where this is going. We see a lot of ads that make us want to buy a lot of things. Even if we don't realize it at the time, that seed is planted. That yearning, the wanting, is there. But, ads aren't the whole problem. Even the shows we watch fuel this yearning for consumption.

Think about shows like The Bachelorette or Desperate Housewives. These people are wearing beautiful clothes, driving fantastic cars and living in beautiful houses. We don't live lives anything like the shows we watch on TV. This means we end up, even subconsciously, comparing our lives to what we watch. And it seems as if most people find their own life lacking when they stop and compare it to this fantastical dream existence.

Or, think about all those home improvement shows on HGTV. We see people redoing their homes and yards to make them more beautiful and amazing. They buy paint and drywall and new couches and new refrigerators to make it a design masterpiece.

And what happens? Well, we'd sorta like to redo our kitchen or bedroom too, right?

It's an endless cycle. We see the new top of the line running shoes, and suddenly our current running shoes "aren't good enough". We see the new Dyson circular fan, and suddenly our little tabletop fan is too "unsophisticated".

Everything we currently own and use just fine pales in comparison to the new, the beautiful, the fabulous we see on TV. And, this just adds fuel to the fire for our consumption for more.

Stats to Chew On…

It's not just TV's propensity to compel us to consume more that has me worried.

It's also TV's effect on us.

Take a look…(all stats come from the Center for Screen Time Awareness):

  • According to the Center for Screen Time Awareness, a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that simply having the TV on in the background can stifle interaction between parent and child, decreasing the number of words spoken and possibly slowing the development of a baby's language skills.
  • In a detailed look at nearly 30 years of research on how television, music, movies and other media affect the lives of children and adolescents, a new study released Monday (December 1, 2008) found an array of negative health effects linked to greater use. The report found strong connections between media exposure and problems of obesity and tobacco use. Nearly as strong was the link to early sexual behavior.
  • In addition to the revelation that consumers in the 45-54 age group average the most daily screen time (just over 9 1/2 hours), the VCM study found the average for all other age groups to be "strikingly similar" at roughly 8 1/2 hours – although the composition and duration of devices used by the respective groups throughout the day varied.

Why I Don't Miss Cable

I canceled my cable years ago. And, the only time I miss it is during football season. But it's not worth it to me to sign back up, not even close.


Because I don't see those endless ads. I rarely, if ever, get the urge to go "buy something" at a store or mall. That yearning just isn't there anymore, and I truly believe it's because I'm not watching all those ads, and all those beautiful people, telling me that my life is lacking because I don't have "this or that".

It's funny, but when I'm in a restaurant or at someone's house where the cable TV is on, it's SO NOISY now. The ads just grate on my nerves, and if I have to listen to it too long I get really irritable. It's easy to see why the TV is called a "squawk box". To me, that's exactly what it sounds like.

So, does this mean I never watch TV? Well, I sure don't watch network or cable TV. My TV is used almost 100% for watching movies, apart from the occasional "Antiques Roadshow" on public television. I get to choose what I watch, and I don't have to put up with any annoying commercials telling me what I've got to have to feel/look/act more successful in life.

Save Money and the Environment By Cancelling Cable

I know that the thought of cancelling cable can be a bit scary. And there's no doubt that it would free up a ton of time for you and your family.

But think about this. Not only would you save the $30-$100 per month on your cable. Think about how much you'd save by not shopping so much.

I'm telling you, over time you will buy less by not watching so much cable television. I'm living proof that this will happen. You can't want what you can't see. You can't yearn after something you don't know you're lacking (and the majority of the time, you're not really lacking it anyway).

It's simple.

Anyway, I'd love to hear what you guys think about this. Do you have cable? If so, would you consider cancelling it?

If not, do you feel like you buy less since you stopped paying for cable?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bloglines - Tips And Tricks For Food Satisfaction

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Food for Thought, haha

Zen to Fitness

Tips And Tricks For Food Satisfaction

By Chris on Simplicity

eastern market 8.23.08 - 3770
laura padgett

At one point I am sure we have all heard about "foods that fill us up" or tricks to not eat as much in one sitting. This seems to be becoming more and more important in the quest for health as foods or tricks that satisfy us earlier are usually the foods that have been used for thousands of years and by our ancestors in order to regulate appetite and trigger the "full" switch in our brains.

Can it really have a significant effect though? can the way we approach food psychologically as well as what we eat have an effect on how much food we end up eating in one sitting. I myself was once sceptical but now believe there is a definite connection.

What got me thinking about this topic was a recent study which I read suggesting that if people think they are eating a big portion or a poriton that is "the right size" they are more likely to be satisfied and reach fullness quickly.

"The extent to which a food that can alleviate hunger is not determined solely by its physical size, energy content, and so on. Instead, it is influenced by prior experience with a food, which affects our beliefs and expectations about satiation. This has an immediate effect on the portion sizes that we select and an effect on the hunger that we experience after eating,"

"Labels on 'light' and 'diet' foods might lead us to think we will not be satisfied by such foods, possibly leading us to eat more afterwards," added Dr. Brunstrom. "One way to militate against this, and indeed accentuate potential satiety effects, might be to emphasize the satiating properties of a food using labels such as 'satisfying' or 'hunger relieving'."

So it looks like our perceptions of what we are eating as well as the word associations we combine with a food can dictate how satisfied a meal will make us feel. Take for instance fiber rich foods like:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts & Seeds
  • Grains, Legumes and Tubers

All examples of natural foods which we usually associate with being healthy or at least "filling" and the truth is when we eat these foods in abundance fullness seems to kick in and stay in place for far longer than for instance having a cookie or a piece of cake which has more calories but is devoid of nutrients and fibre, plus we know it is not a filling food…..

This is why I find it is important to read up on all foods and know what their medicinal properties are and what unique benefit they all give. It is fascinating how many whole foods have unique benefits that if we know about not only makes them more satisfying to eat but gives us more pleasure as we learn why these foods are good for us.

Take for example an apple which amongst its thousands of phytochemical's and vitamins contains a unique fibre called pectin which has benefits over other sources of fibre. Apple Pectin creates a gel like substance in the gut protecting and soothing the stomach, it also contains certain properties which short-circuit the development of colon cancer and gall stones.

By having knowledge about what we are eating in this way allows us to understand why apple's are filling and satisfying in a way few other fruits or vegetables are. It is thanks to their unique fibre which expands and lines the stomach making for a perfect snack in between meals. So what other ways can we cause satiation?

Smaller Plates- When I first read about this I was sceptical. How could using a smaller plate trick me into eating less, I would surely just fill it up again once the food was gone. Little did I know how dissatisfying it can be to eat food from a plate which is half empty. Recently I have been using smaller plates and bowls but filling them to the brim, as oppose to using bigger bowls/plates and having them half filled. It is weird but this has a definite effect on giving more satisfaction when eating.

You have probably noticed that the asians always seem to eat from smaller bowls but they are filled right up. There is something nice about eating from a full bowl or plate. Give it a try I am sure you will find it beneficial in regulating your eating habits.

Slowing Down- This is something I have spoken about before but feel is worth mentioning in this post. Satiety from food takes a certain time to kick in – Our hormone Ghrelin which is released in the stomach to signal to our brains that we need to eat, is counterbalanced by Leptin which rises as we eat and sends a signal of fullness. In order for these hormones to balance out it takes time, slowing down to eat your food will allow these hormones to kick in and for you to realise that you are actually full and don't want any more food.

Eat slowly and chew your food properly and you will give your body a chance to detect the rising Leptin levels which give you a feeling of fullness. This is also why I suggest layering meals starting with raw vegetables and salad before moving onto the main course.

Avoid Light and Diet- This is for two reasons, firstly light and diet products are normally sugar laden and "fake" foods filled with chemicals or artificial ingredients. The second reason is that when we see the word "light" or "diet" we automatically think that we can eat more of these foods without consequence and this usually leads to overeating, or eating a bigger portion that we would normally. Many of the best foods to eat are naturally light or "low fat" anyway and don't need fancy advertising or packaging to get the message across.

Satisfaction seems to come down to a few key factors that we can all attempt to implement into our day to eating habits:

  • Eat High Fiber foods
  • Learn why certain foods are more filling than others
  • Use smaller plates or bowls, which you fill up
  • Slow down eating speed and chew well
  • Avoid foods marketed as "light or low fat"

Pretty simple really. It would be great to hear any tips from readers for getting more satisfaction from the food we eat, these are things we sometimes learn ourselves as time passes and we experiment with different foods or eating stlyles…..

If you enjoyed this article, please checkout my book A Simple Guide to Eating Well and you also can follow me on Twitter.

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The elements of change

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Food for Thought from

Why Democrats will almost always win (even if they lose badly in November)
The Democratic Party may lose dozens of seats in November, but every demographic trend still favors the left.
By Joe Conason

The warnings for Democrats in national polling data remain bleak and unmistakable, from a demoralized progressive base to a revitalized hardcore right, with disenchanted independents veering Republican. With employment trending poorly and no second stimulus in sight, the current question is not whether the Democratic Party will be beaten in the midterm but just how badly.
Before Republicans start to dream again of Karl Rove’s hundred years of GOP domination, however, they might consult the latest working paper by political demographer Ruy Teixeira, who predicted the return of the Democrats back when things looked worst for his party during the early Bush era. According to Teixeira, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, every long-term trend in population, occupation and education still portends a Democratic America in the 21st century.
By now many Americans are aware that the United States is becoming "majority-minority" within the next few decades, a change that Teixeira predicts will occur by 2042. Between now and then, the strongly Democratic orientation of minority voters -- African-Americans, Latinos and Asian-Americans -- will continue to shape electoral results in most states. At the same time, the share of conservative white working-class voters, who tend to vote Republican, is declining:
Heavily Democratic minority voters (80 percent for Obama) increased their share of votes in U.S. presidential elections by 11 percentage points between 1988 and 2008, while the share of increasingly Democratic white college graduate voters rose 4 points. But the share of white working-class (not college-educated) voters, who have remained conservative in their orientation, has plummeted by 15 points.
By 2050, the country will be 54 percent minority as Latinos double from 15 percent to 30 percent of the population, Asian Americans increase from 5 percent to 9 percent, and African Americans move from 14 to 15 percent.
But the Republicans face severe alienation among other growing demographic cohorts as well:
The Millennial generation (those born between 1978 and 2000) is adding 4 million eligible voters to the voting pool every year, and this group voted for Obama by a stunning 66-32 margin in 2008. By 2020—the first presidential election in which all Millennials will have reached voting age—this generation will be 103 million strong, and about 90 million of them will be eligible voters. Those 90 million Millennial eligible voters will represent just under 40 percent of America’s total eligible voters…
Professionals are now the most Democratic and fastest-growing occupational group in the United States, and they are a huge chunk of the burgeoning white college graduate population. They gave Obama an estimated 68 percent of their vote in 2008. By the middle of this decade, professionals will account for around one in five American workers….
Democrats also generally do better among women than men, and they do particularly well among growing female subgroups such as the unmarried and the college educated. Seventy percent of unmarried women voted for Obama, and an estimated 65 percent of college-educated women supported him. Unmarried women are now 47 percent, or almost half, of adult women, up from 38 percent in 1970, and college-educated women are an especially rapidly growing population. Their numbers have more than have tripled in recent decades, from just eight percent of the 25-and-older female population in 1970 to 28 percent today.
Finally, growing religious diversity favors Democrats as well, especially rapid increases among the unaffiliated (75 percent of whom voted for Obama). Unaffiliated or secular voters—not white evangelical Protestants—are the fastest-growing “religious” group in the United States… Looking even farther down
the road, white Christians will be only around 35 percent of the population by 2040, and conservative white Christians, who have been such a critical part of the Republican base, will be only about a third of that—a minority within a minority.
Although he is certainly a Democratic partisan, Teixeira says the party could easily forfeit all of its advantages:
[The Democrats’] chief challenge now is governance, which is daunting in its own right. They have an ambitious agenda in areas such as health care, financial reform, education, energy, and global relations that they are having some success in pursuing. If these policies have their intended effects and make serious progress toward remedying problems in these areas, Democrats will be in very good shape indeed and will solidify their support among emerging demographics while destabilizing what is left of the GOP coalition.
Conversely, if the Democrats fail to produce—whether through ineffective programs, fiscal meltdown, or both—even an unreformed GOP will remain very competitive despite the many demographic changes that are disadvantaging the party. The next few years will tell the tale.
Governing, of course, will become even more difficult with smaller majorities in the House and the Senate, a prospect that requires a toughness yet to be displayed in the Obama White House or on Capitol Hill.