Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You Call This Bacon?

One of the priceless memories I will have of my parents' recent visit was my mother's reaction after opening up a package of bacon she purchased from Tyson's.

"You call this bacon??"

I guess this is one of those "you had to be there" moments. The puzzled, almost comical expression she had when she opened the package drew laughter from both my husband and I... but then, we don't normally buy CAFO bacon here, if we can avoid it - hahaha

Other interesting comparisons made:
- apparently paper products here in the USA are extremely high in cost vs. those in Canada
- overall cost of food was actually higher here than in Canada, particularly in the area of staples (such as bread, milk, eggs, etc.) although many processed foods were less expensive
- cost of goods like electrical tools, large gas bbqs, etc are far less expensive here (one example, a very lg gas bbq at Menards had a price tag of about $650 and an identical one in their area would cost about $1400)
- medical costs are way out of hand here in the USA when compared with Ontario/Canada, but then we all know that (don't we?)
- and although they thought taxes were excessive in their area, they were blown away by the many creative ways we are taxed down here.

And then there was the air -- yes, the air we all breathe -- which few people realize how bad it is in this region. My mother had a hard time adjusting to it, just as I did when I first moved here.

You see, clean air has a sweetness to it that's difficult to explain. Your body doesn't have to work nearly so hard breathing, in my humble opinion. There's a "lightness" you feel that goes beyond just your lungs that I can't quite describe.

My parents live deep in the bush, surrounded by lush forests, quite a distance from any large cities... or towns for that matter. No industry. Little to no traffic. No CAFOs. It's pure wilderness outside the main campground community, probably the closest to natural clean air you can get these days.

But now, on to water. What saddened me was the shocking drop in water tables throughout the region at the tip of Lake Superior. The once-mighty Kam River has almost dried up. My father said there were points you could even walk across it, which would have been impossible in my youth owing to its strong undercurrents and depth in those days. Even Lake Superior, one of the largest fresh water lakes in North America, has noticeably receded when compared with some of my old photos taken on the waterfront.

And finally, energy. Both my husband and I quizzed my parents relentlessly on their solar and wind powered home. Where they live, they don't have access to any power grid for electricity -- they're forced to create their own. I think we learned a lot and picked up some excellent tips that will save us a great deal of money and time when we make the move toward converting part (or all) of our energy supply needs.

Overall, we all had a wonderful time during their visit. But, alas, it's time to get "back to work" so-to-speak. You'll be hearing more from me soon as I wade through a ton of emails and get caught up on things going on in our neck of the woods.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Powering Up Northern Indiana

Not sure if you heard about the potential sale of NIPSCO here in Northern Indiana. According to Associated Press (May 30/2007) ...the sale is off. (see link)

Many people here in Northern Indiana are unaware of what has happened in other States where deregulation of power has led to exhorbitant rate increases, hurting small to medium sized business and residential comsumers alike. In some cases, power bills more than tripled in size overnight.

We were lucky to not have experienced the same kind of drastic rate hikes.

But that doesn't mean we couldn't see our electric bills go up -- FAST -- and without much warning...

Now, more than ever, it's important to keep a tight reign on expenditures and debt load at our Jasper County REMC. Leonard Richardson mentioned just a few points where cut backs could result in powerful savings, for example, Directors of our REMC are Independent Contractors – they are not employees - and yet, they:

- are entitled to free health insurance – costing REMC over $5,000 per year per director

- are entitled to family health insurance – costing REMC over $8,500 per year per director

- get 4 all expense paid trips including Las Vegas for directors and their spouse –costing REMC thousands of dollars

Think about it. These perks are all funded by your utility bill, for a PART TIME JOB!

Leonard Richardson has refused to attend anything but in-state meetings. He has limited his spending, makes his wife pay her own way, and they have both refused REMC paid health insurance. He stood alone against the current policy that gives large power, like the Dairy on SR 14, free installation.

He's worked very hard for all of us to keep our electric bills low.

He could use our support at the upcoming Annual Meeting Tuesday, June 12th, at the Jasper County Fairgrounds. Bring the GREEN card they sent you in the mail or call the REMC office for a replacement.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Dan Bartlett Leaves White House Too

You may not know who Dan Bartlett is... Briefly, he's been described as one of President Bush's most trusted advisers and his longest-serving aide, as well as "someone who has Bush's ear."

The big story on the news wires today is about Dan Bartlett's resignation, effective for around July 4th of this year.

The blog "" have an interesting collection of public appearances/press releases referencing Dan Bartlett. Paints and interesting picture.

One of the news stories that caught my eye regarding Dan's resignation was published by Swiss Info in which they write:
Bartlett, who said he had been pondering his departure for months, started working for Bush in October 1993 in the future president's first race for Texas governor. One of his first communications crises was to handle the fallout when Bush accidentally shot an endangered bird on a hunting trip. (link)

Accidentally? Kind of makes a person wonder if the man knows what he's shooting at when he makes his decisions, in my humble opinion.