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I spent the last part of my time in the Army in Japan, in 1966.  I love the way the Japanese incorporate nature into their art.  I found the Japanese American National Museum site.  They currently have an exhibit called “Living Flowers”, http://www.janm.org/django/exhibits/livingflowers/
 
“Traditional Japanese culture has exerted a profound influence on the vanguard of Western art practices for over 150 years. Living Flowers explores this impulse by exhibiting works of contemporary artists alongside ikebana created by masters of the Ikenobo, Ohara, and Sogetsu schools of ikebana.

The title Living Flowers refers to the unique presence of living flowers in the galleries. The exhibition proposes that the practice of ikebana provides way to consider a range of formal, conceptual, compositional, and pictorial strategies in contemporary art, and that conversely, contemporary art can illuminate the principles and practices of ikebana.

The Japanese art of flower arrangement has its origins in fifteenth-century Japan. Over the centuries, ikebana has been transformed into a highly cultivated art form. Today it is practiced by many different schools of thought. Master practioners of Ikenobo, Ohara, and Sogetsu represent the oldest and most established sensei (teachers) in the Japanese American community of Los Angeles and have achieved high levels of certification by their respective headquarters in Japan.

The works of contemporary art were selected because they have affinities with ikebana and share mutual influences. Some of the art directly references ikebana. Other works explore similar issues of composition, ephemerality, shadow and depth, and the ornamental power of flower imagery. By exhibiting these two different spheres of art, Living Flowers highlights the connections between the cultural traditions of Japan and the West.”

Another picture from the exhibit:

 

I buy fresh cut flowers once a week for my dining table.  My favorite flower is the Lily of the Valley, my late mothers nickname, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_of_the_valley .

Do you have fresh flowers in your house?  Do you grow flowers?  What is your favorite flower?

A Steam engine car that can exceed 200 MPH
On of my favorite podcast is “This Week In Science” , http://www.twis.org/ .  It’s hosted by Justin Jackson and Dr. Kirsten Sanford.  They present science news in a much more entertaining, but still very informative, way.  Kirsten has her own blog, The Bird’s Brain, http://www.kirstensanford.com/ .  She is also seen, as Dr. Kiki, on the Pop Siren video podcast, http://revision3.com/popsiren/ .
 
When I find science news that I think they might find interesting I e-mail the article to them.  Here are some of the science news stories this past week:
 
1. A glass has been developed that could lead to things like airplane wings being made of glass.
 
 
Excerpt from the article:
 
“Scientists have made a breakthrough discovery in the bizarre properties of glass, which behaves at times like both a solid and a liquid.

The finding could lead to aircraft that look like Wonder Woman’s plane. Such planes could have wings of glass or something called metallic glass, rather than being totally invisible.

The breakthrough involved solving the decades-old problem of just what glass is.

It has been known that that despite its solid appearance, glass and gels are actually in a “jammed” state of matter — somewhere between liquid and solid — that moves very slowly.

Like cars in a traffic jam, atoms in a glass are in something like suspended animation, unable to reach their destination because the route is blocked by their neighbors.

So even though glass is a hard substance, it never quite becomes a proper solid, according to chemists and materials scientists.

Work so far has concentrated on trying to understand the traffic jam, but now Paddy Royall from the University of Bristol in England, with colleagues in Canberra, Australia and Tokyo, has shown that glass fails to be a solid due to the special atomic structures that form in a glass when it cools.”

2) A steam engine car has been developed with a top speed in excess of 200 MPH. 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4076811.stm

Excerpt:

“The search for a suitable alternative fuel source to hydrocarbons which can cleanly power our vehicles has touched on various different options.

Fuels which do not “rot” the environment usually bring to mind images of gently humming electric cars, clean hydrogen, natural gas, or hithane – a concoction of hydrogen and methane.

The most promising, believes Mr Bowsher, is either nuclear or hydrogen fuel.

The public is reluctant to explore nuclear; but researchers and engineers across the world are exploring how best to generate and, more importantly, store hydrogen fuel, one of the main barriers to its widespread use.

Nine European cities are taking part in a pilot scheme to use hydrogen fuelled buses on certain routes, for instance.

But until a viable mass-scale way of storing and distributing hydrogen effectively is developed, it remains limited in use.

 

 
INSPIRATION STEAM CAR
Construction: Tubular steel spaceframe with composite/metal panels
Length: 5.25m
Width: 1.70m
Height: 1.10m
Fuel: LPG (Liquified petroleum gas)
Working fluid: Water/steam
Performance: Maximum speed 200+ mph (320km/h); Initial acceleration: 0.52G
Brakes: Twin front wheel brakes and twin rear inboard rear disc brakes
Steering: Rack and pinion
Mr Bowsher believes that until then, designers could look to Inspiration for a different take on good old steam. “
 
3) It may be possible to grow vegetables on Martian soil, based on test of samples taken by the Phoenix Mars Lander.
 
 
June 26, 2008 — NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander performed its first wet chemistry experiment on Martian soil flawlessly yesterday, returning a wealth of data that for Phoenix scientists was like winning the lottery.

“We are awash in chemistry data,” said Michael Hecht of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, lead scientist for the Microscopy, Electrochemistry and Conductivity Analyzer, or MECA, instrument on Phoenix. “We’re trying to understand what is the chemistry of wet soil on Mars, what’s dissolved in it, how acidic or alkaline it is. With the results we received from Phoenix yesterday, we could begin to tell what aspects of the soil might support life.”

“This is the first wet-chemical analysis ever done on Mars or any planet, other than Earth,” said Phoenix co-investigator Sam Kounaves of Tufts University, science lead for the wet chemistry investigation.

About 80 percent of Phoenix’s first, two-day wet chemistry experiment is now complet e. Phoenix has three more wet-chemistry cells for use later in the mission.

“This soil appears to be a close analog to surface soils found in the upper dry valleys in Antarctica,” Kouvanes said. “The alkalinity of the soil at this location is definitely striking. At this specific location, one-inch into the surface layer, the soil is very basic, with a pH of between eight and nine. We also found a variety of components of salts that we haven’t had time to analyze and identify yet, but that include magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride.”

“This is more evidence for water because salts are there. We also found a reasonable number of nutrients, or chemicals needed by life as we know it,” Kounaves said. “Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that the amazing thing about Mars is not that it’s an alien world, but that in many aspects, like mineralogy, it’s very much like Earth.”

 
4) A “robot band”, “The Trons”.
 
 
Their My Space page:
 
 
“The Trons are a completely self playing robotic junk band! They are made mostly from old computer and mechanical parts and play original songs using an array of old amps and instruments. They now have five gigs under their belt and have just completed Hamilton’s Ignition Fringe Festival. There’s some pics below of the last gig.. robot groupies and mosh pit and all! Details of new gigs and some more downloads coming soon. Also some live footage of the gig.”
Some yummy treats found on the net.
 
What unusual food combinations have you tried?
What unusual food combinations can you think of?
 
1. Mash Cone
 
A Mash Cone consisting of sausage, mash potato, gravy and peas in an ice cream cone has been invented.

http://inventorspot.com/articles/delicious_or_disgusting_the_banger_mash_cone_12703

“From Aunt Bessie’s web presence and the traditional kind of British food she’s known for, like steak pies, home-style chips, and baked apple pie, you wouldn’t think she’d become a trendsetter in the food arena. But she has created the United Kingdom’s first main course on an ice cream cone — the Banger and Mash Cone.

Aunt Bessie’s is actually a British company that produces prepared, packaged, ready-to-heat-and-eat foods. They are homey, comfort foods. Wel l, someone at Aunt Bessie’s apparently got the idea to make the Banger (sausage) and Mash (mashed potatoes) Cone, because there was a decline in the amount of ice cream consumed in the recent summers… a decline, it is theorized, come about due to the colder, wetter, summers in Britain.”

 
2. Deep Fried Coca Cola  – From Wikipedia
 
“Fried Coke is frozen Coca-Cola-flavored batter which is deep-fried and then topped with Coca-Cola syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon sugar, and a cherry. It was introduced by inventor Abel Gonzales, Jr., at the 2006 State Fair of Texas, where it won the title of “Most Creative” in the second annual judged competition among food vendors. It proved very popular in Texas, selling 10,000 cups in the first two weeks, and is now being adopted as a snack by fairs in North Carolina as well as Arizona. It is also very popular in California.

Fried Coke is estimated to have 830 calories.

3. Maple Bacon Lollipops

http://www.lollyphile.com/maple-bacon.php

“We feel pretty safe in saying that we’re the first people to ever make a bacon-based lollipop. And not just any bacon, either- we use sustainable, organic, cured bacon- we kinda felt that it went well with the pure Vermont maple syrup we were using as a base, you know?”

4. Pizza Beer

http://www.mammamiapizzabeer.com/main.html

“Pizza Beer” was developed Labor Day, 2006 by Tom and Athena Seefurth in our home brewery in Campton Township, IL. It all started with a surplus of tomatoes, a bag of garlic & an idea that started early in the spring when we planted our garden herbs.

The goal was to create a beer that would pair with a wide variety of foods, especially our favorite, Pizza! In the end, we were pleasantly surprised that this “mess” turned out to be the best thing since the guy with chocolate that bumped into Ralph Mouth & mixed up the chocolate with the peanut butter! Indeed, the world will love “Pizza Beer”.

5. Caffine Enriched Donuts & Begals

http://www.buzzdonuts.com/

“Caffeine! We have learned how to make caffeine tasteless by microencapsulating small particles of caffeine with an edible, tasteless coating to create Encaff™. Caffeine is a very bitter substance that is heavily masked for use in soft drinks. The Encaff™ product allows one to add caffeine to products without altering its taste or texture, which leads to new and exciting new products like the Buzz™ donut and Buzzed™ bagel.”

The source of the above food list was the Pop Siren podcast:

http://revision3.com/popsiren/

An article in the Christian Science Monitor about Part II of the Pew Forum Religious Landscape Survey just released.

I am interested in knowing how the survey lines up with your own beliefs and whether you find any of the results surprising? 

The complete report can be found on the Pew Forum site:

 
 
From the CSM article by Jane Lampman:
 
 

“Religion is a vital force in the private and public lives of most Americans and helps mold the country’s social and political attitudes, says the latest report from the US Religious Landscape Survey.

Religious freedom has given that vitality free rein. And for most, convictions are matters of personal choice and not necessarily from the tradition in which one was raised. The pathbreaking survey of a representative sample of 35,000 adults has revealed an unprecedented shifting of people among religious affiliations in recent decades. It also shows a remarkable diversity of beliefs and practices – within as well as across faiths.

“While there are important differences between religious traditions, affiliation, belief, and practice do not line up the way theologians might want them to line up,” says John Green, senior fellow at Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, which carried out the survey.

Indeed, in a step that may unsettle orthodox believers but bodes well for American pluralism, large majorities in nearly every tradition reject religious exclusivity and say that “many religions can lead to eternal life.” Only 16 percent of Roman Catholics and 36 percent of Evangelicals, for example, say that “my religion is the one true faith” leading to salvation. Similarly, more than two-thirds of adults with a religious affiliation believe there’s more than one true way to interpret the teachings of their own faith.

“Americans recognize that we do live in a much more complicated landscape than we used to,” says Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College.

The survey has been released in two stages. The first report, in February, documented the extraordinary switching among denominations, faiths, and a growing “unaffiliated” category. It also showed that Protestantism is close to losing its majority status in the United States. The second report, released Monday, details the beliefs and practices of people of all traditions – including world faiths and the unaffiliated – and analyzes their impact on social and political views.

“The unaffiliated have a diversity of belief that no one knew existed,” says Mark Gray of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington. For instance, 35 percent of them pray at least weekly, including 10 percent of atheists and 18 percent of agnostics.

On some basics, the American faithful are much alike. Ninety-two percent believe in God, including 70 percent of those not connected with any religion. Three-quarters believe in life after death, and 79 percent believe in miracles.

Prayer is a widespread practice, in which 75 percent engage at least weekly and 58 percent daily. Thirty-four percent say they have experienced or witnessed a divine healing of an illness or injury.

Yet divergent perspectives coexist within many traditions. In regard to the conception of God, 60 percent of Americans believe in a personal God, while 25 percent believe in an impersonal force or universal spirit. Eastern Orthodox Christians split 49 to 34 percent on this question, while Muslims divide evenly, 41 to 42 percent. Among Jews, 25 percent believe in a personal God and 50 percent in an impersonal force.

An aspect of practice that often spurs critiques about the depth of American faith relates to sacred texts. While believers hold their scriptures in high esteem – 63 percent call them the word of God – nearly half (45 percent) say they seldom or never read them outside of worship services. That rises to 57 percent for Catholics and 70 percent for Jews. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are the most avid scripture readers, followed by black Protestants and Evangelicals.

“Since our major religions are religions of the book, that’s notable,” says Professor Wolfe. “The religious revival in America isn’t what you could call the old-time religion that has serious theological content or biblical knowledge.”

Views differ also on whether the texts should be taken literally. Sixty percent of Evangelicals take the Bible as the literal word of God, while 23 percent of mainline Christians and 22 percent of Catholics do. Fifty percent of Muslims take the Koran literally. On the other hand, 67 percent of Buddhists, 53 percent of Jews, and 47 percent of Hindus say their scriptures are written by men, not God.

While Americans take their religion seriously (more than half say it is very important in their lives), it’s not the first place they say they go when making moral choices or deciding on political views.

The survey finds that significant majorities in every tradition and among the unaffiliated agree that there are “absolute standards of right and wrong.” When asked where they look for guidance, 52 percent say they count on practical experience and common sense, 29 percent cite religious teachings, and 9 percent point to reason or philosophy.”

In her blog Tam, InProgress, http://kassota.wordpress.com/ , asked when we were born.  I was a World War II baby, born on May 21, 1943, while my father was in the Navy in the South Pacific.   Most people who know me think I am more of a dim bulb than a star, but it’s my blog.  🙂
 
At home life revolved around the Rationing Book:
 
 
“By the end of 1942, half of U.S automobiles were issued an ‘A’ sticker which allowed 4 gallons of fuel per week.  That sticker was issued to owners whose use of their cars was nonessential.  Hand the pump jockey your Mileage Ration Book coupons and cash, and she (yes, female service station attendants because the guys were over there) could sell you three or four gallons a week, no more.  For nearly a year, A-stickered cars were not to be driven for pleasure at all.”
 
Also rationed were sugar, coffee, meats, canned fish, cheese, fats, canned milk, shoes, tires, cars, bicycles, stoves and type writers.
 
Casablanca won the Academy Award for best picture and Dragon’s Teeth by Upton Sinclair the Pulitzer Prize for best novel.
 
On May 21, 1943 the Chicago White Sox beat the Washington Senators 1-0 in a game that took just 1 hour and 29 minutes.  Most baseball games now take three hours.
 
Of course most of the headlines were about the war, as many still are today.  Gang violence is also nothing new.  From a 1943 article in the  Los Angeles Time:
 
“Fresh in the memory, of Los Angeles is last year’s surge of gang violence that made the “zoot suit” a badge of delinquency. Public indignation seethed as warfare among organized bands of marauders, prowling the streets at night, brought a wave of assaults, finally murders.

Gang activities constitute an important part of the juvenile delinquent problem in Los Angeles. Next to “desire for adventure and employment” the Police Department lists gangs as the chief cause of delinquency.”

Another sign of the times is from the July 1943 issue of “Transportation Magazine”.  It’s a guide for male supervisors on how to get the most out of women in the workforce.  “You’ve come a long way baby”- points to any one who can remember where that came from. 🙂

Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees:

There’s no longer any question whether transit companies should hire women for jobs formerly held by men. The draft and manpower shortage has settled that point. The important things now are to select the most efficient women available and how to use them to the best advantage.

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they’re less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn’t be doing it, they still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.

2. When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It’s always well to impress upon older women the importance of friendliness and courtesy.

3. General experience indicates that “husky” girls–those who are just a little on the heavy side–are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination–one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.

5. Stress at the outset the importance of time–the fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.

6. Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that they’ll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say the women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

7. Whenever possible, let the inside employee change from one job to another at some time during the day. Women are inclined to be less nervous and happier with change.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick, and wash her hands several times a day.

9. Be tactful when issuing instructions of in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can’t shrug off harsh words the way men do. Never ridicule a woman–it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.

10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl’s husband or father may swear vociferously, she’ll grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.

11. Get enough size variety in operator’s uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can’t be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

 

In a comment to my last music video post Bwan (Brandy – http://bransblahg.wordpress.com/ ) reminded me I have been neglecting “The King” Elvis Aaron Presley,
What was the first Elvis song you can remember hearing and what did you think of it at the time?
What is your favorite Elvis song?
 
Many singers have made a major contribution to the development of Roll and Rock.  However with the release of “Heart Break Hotel” in 1956 there is only BE (Before Elvis) and AE (After Elvis).
 
Rock, blues, gospel, pop and country Elvis had hit records in all these genres.  In 1956 his “Don’t Be Cruel” was the first record to top the charts in the three Billboard catergories pop, rhythm & blues, and country & western,
 
It is hard for young people today to understand what an impact Elvis had.  He terrified white parents even as him music was capturing the hearts of their children.
 
From Wikipedia – “In 1956, a critic for the New York Daily News wrote that popular music “has reached its lowest depths in the ‘grunt and groin’ antics of one Elvis Presley” and the Jesuits denounced him in its weekly magazine, America. Even Frank Sinatra opined: “His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people.”.
 
I think when hearing “You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog” white parents instinctively know the Apocalypse was coming.  Elvis’s music appealed to both black and white youths.  In the rhythm and blues #1 hits chart for 1956 his is the only white name on the list, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_number-one_rhythm_and_blues_hits_(United_States)#1956 .
 
White kids dancing with blacks kids leds to whites dating blacks.  That scared the beejesus out of white parents. It also scared the beejesus out of black parents.
 
Elvis’s voice drips sexual tension.  From Kansas to Hong Kong female hearts just melt listening to him.  If there are girls on Mars they would go crazy over Elvis.
Love Is Tender
I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You
I prefer ‘early’ Elvis and these are my favorite songs by “The King”:
That’s All Right Mama
Heartbreak Hotel
I Want You, I need You, I Love You
Don’t Be Cruel
With summer here I have been thinking about some of the music I enjoyed listening to when growing up.  I graduated from High School in 1961 so my teen years took place at the birth of rock and roll.
 
One of the best voices form the 1950’s was Tony Williams, lead singer of The Platters, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Platters.  My favorite of theirs was “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”
 
My first teen crush was probably Brenda Lee, only 15 herself when she sang “Sweet Nothin’s“.  Made my little heart go pitty pat.  🙂  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenda_Lee
 
I was a big fan of what became know as “rockabilly”.  One of the pioneers in this style was Dale Hawkins, his “Suzie Q“, from 1956, was one of my favorites. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Hawkins 
 
Santana came along in the late 1960’s.  Their song “Soul Sacrifice” is one of the most played on my iPod. I was at Woodstock when they performed this song.  Me and my friends have looked at the movie several times and can’t see ourselves anywhere in it.  Being hungry and dirty for three days is a lot more fun in a story than in real life.  Overall I did have a good time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santana_%28band%29

 

Questions
 
What singer do you remember having a crush on when you were a teen?
Do you and boyfriend/girlfriend have “a song”?
What do remember as your favorite dancing song as a teen?

I just read an article in the Christian Science Monitor, by Eliza Barclay, about the Millennium Village Project.  The projects are not cheap as the article states.  However the countries of the world always find the money to make war.  To spend billions on their armies.  Spending money to reduce hunger and poverty never seems to be a priority.
 
The projects guiding principles are (per Wikipedia):
 
1)Promote sustainable, scalable, community-led progress toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through the use of scientifically validated interventions—one village at a time

2)Ensure African ownership of the Millennium Development Goals, and work in partnership with African governments and regional groups

3)Increase capacity and community empowerment in Africa through training and knowledge sharing with local African governments, NGOs, and village communities.

4)Partner with the public and private sectors, innovative NGOs, universities and leading experts, and the international donor community throughout Africa and the world to continually improve and coordinate development strategies.

5)Transform rural sub-subsistence farming economies into small-scale enterprise development economies and promote diversified entrepreneurs[3]

The Millennium Villages Project web site:
 
 
The dry months of April, May, and June were once equated with hunger for Agre Ranyondo and his neighbors in this community of 55,000 people.

Mr. Ranyondo, a farmer, waited for the rains to come before he could plant corn on his six-acre plot. Often the 10 bags of corn he harvested through two planting seasons weren’t enough to feed his family of eight.

But the cycle of hunger was broken last year.

The change began in 2005, when Ranyondo met with agricultural extension workers dispatched by the Millennium Villages Project (MVP), an international organization conceived by economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. He was given seeds better suited to the region, fertilizers, and was taught how to use them.

By 2007, Ranyondo had quintupled his annual output to 50 bags of corn, 20 of which he sold for cash and the other 30 he used to feed his family.

“We used to starve for these months, but now we are through starving,” Ranyondo says. “The technical know-how in our farming is much improved.”

Sauri is one of 80 Millennium Villages in 10 countries in Africa, where proven technologies, funded by donors, governments, and the community itself, are deployed to lift villagers in “hunger hot spots” out of poverty.

The project is not cheap. Each village operates on a budget of $110 per person per year over five years. The total cost: at least $1.5 million, a higher expenditure of aid than most development projects.

But increasingly these villages look to be oases of food security in Africa within the larger context of the global food crisis, which is hitting developing countries hard. Increasingly, the strategy for dealing with this crisis is to help small-scale farmers.

“No one is arguing anymore whether you can double production through input subsidies to small-holder farmers in most agricultural environments across Africa,” says Glenn Denning, director of the Millennium Development Goals Center in Kenya. “We now have the evidence from the Millennium Villages that Africa holds tremendous potential to actually be the supply response to the global food crisis.”

Since 2005, the prices of staples such corn, rice, and wheat have jumped 80 percent around the world. Yet, per capita food production has declined in Africa for the past 30 years and farm productivity is just one-quarter the global average, according to the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Here in Kenya, corn production dropped by 6.1 percent from 2006 to 2007, according to Kenya’s 2008 Economic Survey. This year, experts predict a shortfall of 10 million bags – about a third of the country’s consumption.

In Sauri, however, a cereal bank that offers its 3,800 members a place to sell and store surplus grain has a warehouse stacked high with bags of corn, emblematic of the region’s high levels of production and opportunity for profit from current high prices for farmers like Ranyondo. “As the whole of Kenya is pressing towards hunger, this place is different,” says Willis Ombai, a program coordinator with the Sauri MVP.

The Millennium Villages are still small examples and face significant challenges in scaling up to district or provincial levels. But throughout the network of 11 villages that make up the Sauri community, corn production has on average more than tripled. The core of the strategy is a short-term provision of improved seeds suited to the local environment and fertilizers like Di-Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) and urea accompanied by advice on how to use them.

After two years, the subsidy ends. Farmers can get a loan from the cereal bank if they do not have the cash to buy the fertilizer and better seeds. In Ranyondo’s case, he made enough profit on the sale of his corn to pay for seeds and other inputs.

But many obstacles remain in applying the model on a larger scale. The Sauri project, for example, has not yet found enough support in Kenya to scale up to the district level. Meanwhile, the price of petrochemical fertilizers, closely tied to the price of oil, is expected to climb by 70 percent.

Sam Rich, a consultant who criticized the Sauri project in the Wilson Quarterly magazine last year, noted that farmers in Kenya don’t buy fertilizer because it costs three times as much as it does in Europe. They could boost productivity by simply easing taxes and import duties on fertilizer, he added.

But the food crisis has put a fresh spotlight on the MVP strategy, and proponents point to Malawi as an example of it working on a larger scale. Malawi has doubled its annual corn production since 2004, allowing for self-sufficiency and some surplus for sale to other nations.

A number of other African countries are now waiting for the funding to implement a similar national program, including Tanzania and Rwanda.

“We need to move very quickly and get a financing mechanism so that these countries can access funds to pay for seeds and fertilizers and train extension workers,” says Denning.

Nothing But Nets – Donate $10 to buy a mosquito net to save an African child from malaria.
 
“In the Detroit area, Walton Academy’s K-8 students recently held a month-long Netraiser with the goal of raising $1,000 to purchase 100 bed nets.”
 
 
Nothing But Nets website –  http://www.nothingbutnets.net/
 
One of the most positive things I like about this campaign is that it is getting young people to spend their energy on helping others.  Besides making the world a better place helping people is fun and makes us feel good about ourselves.  The sooner our children learn this lesson the better.
 
I never devoted any of my time to charities until I retired.  I donated money, but not my time.  I now do the booking for a local shelter.  I knows it is just bookeeping but for some reason they won’t let me near the kitchen.  🙂
 
What is the first charity you can remember getting involved in, either by donating money and/or your time?
 
A New York Times article, by Donald G. McNeil, Jr., on Nothing But Nets:
 
 
From the article:

“Donating $10 to buy a mosquito net to save an African child from malaria has become a hip way to show you care, especially for teenagers. The movement is like a modern version of the March of Dimes, created in 1938 to defeat polio, or like collecting pennies for Unicef on Halloween.

Unusual allies, like the Methodist and Lutheran Churches, the National Basketball Association and the United Nations Foundation, are stoking the passion for nets that prevent malaria. The annual “American Idol Gives Back” fund-raising television special has donated about $6 million a year for two years. The music channel VH1 made a fund-raising video featuring a pesky man in a mosquito suit.

It is an appeal that clearly resonates with young people.”

“The first time I donated money, after my bar mitzvah, it was for someone who needed a heart transplant,” said Daniel Fogel, 18, a founder of his Waltham, Mass., high school’s juggling club, which raised $2,353 for nets last year. “But I had the feeling: Am I really helping? But if you can say $10 saves a life, that makes students feel they can help a lot. And every student has $10.”

“Crucial to the drive against malaria, which kills an estimated one million people a year, mostly in Africa, has been the development of an inexpensive, long-lasting insecticidal net. Unlike old nets, which either had no insecticide or had to be dipped twice a year, the new ones keep killing or repelling mosquitoes for three to five years. When more than 60 percent of the inhabitants of a village use them over their beds while they are sleeping, malaria rates usually drop sharply. ”

“Yoni D. P. Rechtman, a seventh grader on the undefeated middle-school team at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn, organized a 3-on-3 basketball tournament as part of his “mitzvah project,” the tradition of raising money for a good cause before one’s bar mitzvah. Unfortunately, he said, it rained that day; but the nine players who showed up anyway had family pledges totaling $1,900.

At Howard University in Washington, Ololade Ajayi helped organize the African Student Association fashion show to raise $2,300. She had a personal interest, she said, because she caught malaria several times growing up in Nigeria and lost a friend to it.

“We had to take our own nets to boarding school,” she said. “There were stagnant water pools on the school grounds. If your net got holes in it, you’d be bitten.”

But the champion for her age and weight class is undoubtedly Katherine Commale of Hopewell, Pa., who has just turned 7 and has raised $43,000.

Her mother, Lynda Commale, said it started in April 2006 when she was watching television while the family slept and learned from a PBS documentary that a child died of malaria every 30 seconds.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Ms. Commale said. “The next morning, the kids said, ‘Mom, what’s wrong with you?’ I told them — and Katherine was just 5, and she started counting on her fingers. She got to 30, and she looked horrified. And she said ‘Mommy, we have to do something.’ ”

With her 3-year-old brother, Katherine built a diorama from a pizza box and some Barbie dolls to represent an African family in a hut. Then, with a piece of tulle and a toy bug, she developed a short skit showing how nets protect sleeping children.

“She tucks it in, she says, ‘You’re safe now,’ ” Ms. Commale said. “Kids get this in like 90 seconds.”

Soon, she and Katherine made a presentation at their church and raised $2,000, and they have continued visiting churches. Katherine and her friends also hand-decorate gift cards (which can be ordered at lyndacommale@yahoo.com.) that say, “A mosquito net has been purchased in your name.” They have raised about $8,000 each Christmas, Ms. Commale said.

I’ll close out the week with the amazing guitar work of Rodrigo & Gabriela. I hope everyone will have a fabulous weekend.

Juan Loco

Stairway To Heaven

Orion

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