The not so happy holidays of 2021

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2020 was supposed to be the worst, and 2021 was supposed to be better. What happened? Sadly, “WE” did.

2020 hit us all like a bag of bricks, but lets face it, we managed to screw up 2021 all on our own. By the time 2021 came rollin’ along, we all should have known how to handle this situation better. However, despite that, and our own well being, we simply didn’t. Why? It’s time to face it folks, it’s because too many of us were far too busy hating everyone around us, and unfortunately, loving it.

The odd thing about 2021 is that most people lament the state of things. Yet, when you watch people being interviewed (or when you talk to people face-to-face for that matter), it’s not hard to see that many of them are just reveling in the fact that they finally have an excuse (all be it a crappy one) to finally unload on those around them. It’s like an unofficial agreement to hold a year long verbal “Purge” event has been declared. People from all walks of life have spent the last year sharpening their verbal knives, so to speak, and to be clear, no one side is any less blameless than the others.

Now, I’m not one to eagerly encourage the world to grab a coke, sing kumbaya, and put on a happy face (you know all the cliches). That said though, I would at least like to see an attempt at a return to civility. Would that really be so terrible?

I don’t mean to sound so grumpy, but I’m tired. Aren’t you? Tired of the arguments, tired of the craziness, and well, just plain tired of it all not seeming to be getting better (who names something Omicron anyway?)

This holiday season is going to be bad enough for so many of us, as there have been so many lives lost over the past year. It’s time to consider the repercussions of not giving a crap about your fellow man, and maybe, just maybe 2022 might have a chance at being just a little better for us all, if we do. I’m not saying you have to actually love your fellow humans, but maybe you could just start out by faking it, until you make it?

Just something to think about…..and try to have a Happy Holidays Everyone. In the end, trying is all any of us can really do. Here’s a holiday wish that we may all achieve some measure of success.

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Time to “fall back” into better battery habits

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Once again, we’re at that time of year when we have to change our clocks. November 7th, 2021 will be the day you change, or Fall Back, your clock by one hour. Many people will also use this date to change out all the batteries in their home’s smoke detectors too. That’s great, after all safety first right, but only if you include the additional safety precaution of properly recycling those old batteries as well.

The danger of old batteries being thrown away, and left to corrode in landfills, has been shown time and time again. The problems of contamination, animal ingestion, and dangerous childhood exposure have been seen, and warned against for years now. However, despite this, many people choose to ignore the issue entirely; leaving too many batteries to wind up simply thrown away to become future catastrophes.

Part of the problem is that those who do this often don’t think about it as a problem at all, mainly because the battery goes away with their garbage, never to be seen again. However, every so often the proof of danger plays out right at home. Although all batteries need to be properly disposed of, for some reason people often forget that this includes smaller batteries, the so called “button batteries” as well. Unfortunately these can quickly prove just how small, but mighty they truly can be.

These are the type of batteries that are generally found in watches, garage door openers, and small electronic games. They typically range in sizes similar to that of small, medium, and larger buttons. They are also usually just as thin. Babies, toddlers, and animals have all been known to find these shiny little “buttons,” and swallow them whole, much to their detriment. As the stomach acids start to break down the battery casing, out comes the battery acids, and then boom, you have a homemade nightmare to deal with. You can imagine what happens to the stomachs, and intestines, of those who were unfortunate enough to have consumed the battery. Hospital visits, surgery, future treatments, and even death can (and sadly often does) soon fallow. There have even been instances where children have gotten button batteries stuck in their throat, only for the acid to start to burn its way through. How could all of these tragedies been avoided? None of it needed to happen, and wouldn’t have, if only the batteries were properly recycled in the first place.

So, please do your part, and take steps to “Fall Back” into some good battery safety habits this year, once you’ve changed those clocks that is. Have a great November everyone.

It’s time to prep for the 2021 Fall Drug Take Back Day

This time of year, most people are starting to plan for all those fun Fall and Halloween things they look forward to all year. While seeking out the perfect costume, and enjoying that fifth pumpkin spiced latte of the week, don’t forget to prep for some of the serious stuff too. Yeah, I know that making an appointment to get your flu shot isn’t nearly as much fun as planning that pumpkin patch visit, but it still needs to be done. Similarly, cleaning out your medicine cabinet, and making sure the contents get disposed of properly is just another part of adulting these days.

This Fall’s National Drug Take Back Day will take place on Saturday, October 23rd. The official website (takebackday.dea.gov) will soon have all the info you’ll need to find a drop-off location near you. Just remember to remove all labels while sorting out the bottles that need to go. Helping to keep dangerous prescriptions out of the hands of kids, and keeping our waterways clean and drug free, is all of our responsibility.

#HappyFall everyone. 🍂🍂🍂🍂

How to save water and your garden at the same time

So, to wrap up events in July: Fire has proven once again to not be our friend. Thanks to the Delta variant, masks are back on; and finally, the high heat and low water supplies are about to kill your garden. Well, I might be able to help you out with at least one of those things.

Here are a couple of tips on how to conserve water and still have a garden survive.

  1. Prioritize: Yeah this is going to suck, but it’s time to choose. If some plants aren’t doing well, or if they just aren’t needed, then pull them. That means by the roots, because if you don’t, the remaining plant pieces might still take up some water.
  2. Shade helps: If your plants already provide some shade to their neighbors, then great. However, you could also add a shade element to help out. This prevents both water loss and leaf burning in more sensitive plants. Use a small tarp, sheet, or beach shade tent; either will work as long as they can be moved, but still be braced to not blow away.
  3. Gray-water safely: You can reuse bath water, or water collected from your shower while you’re waiting for it to reach the optimal temperature. If it’s bath water, just make sure it doesn’t have any bath oils or salts in it, as those will hurt your plants and soil. Also, gray-water should be reserved for non-food bearing plants, like flowers, shrubs, and trees not producing fruit.
  4. Finally, water wisely: Water in the early morning, or at night when evaporation is less of a problem. Water deeply, so it will do a thorough job (do you want just a sip in 100 degree weather?). Using mulch can also help with water retention, just choose the type carefully if you have pets. A local nursery, or garden center can help get you set up the right way. Good luck fellow Green Thumbs.

Reusable bags are now welcomed again

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Reusable bags, once banished thanks to Covid, are now once again welcomed in most retail locations. You’ll want to double check with your local store to be sure, but most seem to be embracing their use once again.

Now, more than ever though, it is so very important that you take steps to make sure your bags stay clean. Inspect them every so often, and clean them when needed. Also, swap out old, and fraying bags for more sturdy new ones, so you don’t wind up hating life when an older bag tears on you.

Are we ready to be fully back yet?

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Despite everything we’ve faced over the last year and a half, it looks like we might finally be rounding the corner on this whole thing? (and yes that is a questions mark you see there….)

What does that mean to you personally, well only you can answer that one. Despite what the econ people say, and the health people, and don’t get me started on the political rhetoric people taking up positions surrounding this thing; in the end what this means to you personally is whatever you need it to mean. The buck isn’t being passed here by having said that. Keep in mind that there has been a lot of talk amongst the experts, not to mention media, about what people can expect, and how they should handle the recovery process, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow that advise like it came out of a post-Covid instruction book.

For example, if you still feel safer wearing a mask when you go to the grocery story this summer, then wear one. No one should be judging you for feeling like this is still necessary (now if you’re doing it three years from now too, then we’ll need to talk, but for right now, who cares!?!).

This has been a crazy time for us all. We went from one high anxiety incident, to another, and then back again. As much as we’d all like to get back to “normal” as soon as possible, it really isn’t going to be that easy. The question needs to be asked: “Are we ready to be fully back yet?” The fact that some people say yes, simply because that’s what is going to work best for them doesn’t matter. All of our answers need to count.

The reality is that Covid still isn’t gone. When you hear a reporter talking, in a chipper voice, about how we only had 2500 new cases reported today, that doesn’t mean those 2500 people aren’t sick. Most experts agree that we will be living with this disease for a while yet, and that requires some adaptation on our parts. So, here’s the hard part that no one wants to hear. Life as we knew it pre-2020 isn’t coming back. However, even without Covid, it wasn’t going to be the same life for us in 2025 anyway. True, the changes might not have been as radical, and would have happened without the psychological trauma we’ve all shared, but changes would have occurred anyway. Ironically, without Covid spurring all this hate along, no one would have cussed you out for not wanting to wear the latest earbuds in 2025, yet somehow they feel perfectly justified ridiculing people for sending their kids to schools with masks, or for wearing them in the local Target today.

The bottom line is that people just need to get over themselves. If you’re vaccinated and want to go maskless once it’s legal, then fine. If you don’t, well then simply don’t. What else can we do. The thing that is making this situation worse ultimately, is us. No one can deny that this whole thing has been a giant pain in the you-know-what. That said, there’s no reason for us to continue going at each other in the way we’ve been doing, and making the situation worse. As long as people are taking responsible steps, and moving forward at a pace they can handle, then let them. Just don’t be the that guy, holding the whole healing process up by still pretending that none of this mattered, or wasn’t real to begin with. Playtime is over, and it’s time to get serious about the road ahead. Join us if you can, an any pace you feel appropriate. The important thing is that we all get there in the end.

Drug Take Back Day 2021 is on the calendar

Earth week might be coming to an end, but before it does, there is one more thing to add to you calendar this week – Drug Take Back Day 2021. Earth Week will officially wrap up this Saturday with Drug Take Back Day locations to be found around the country. Each should roughly start around 10am, but you’ll want to double check the specifics of the location nearest you by looking on the Drug Take Back website.

Before heading out make sure to first remove all labels from the prescription bottles. No personal identification should be left for safety’s sake. Then just put it all in a bag, and drop if off in the waiting bins when you get there.

Happy Earth Week Everyone!

Five ways to do Earth Day 2021 in a Covid lockdown

Earth Day 2021 is just a few weeks away, but since we’re still living in a Covid world you might be thinking you’ll have to skip it again. Fear not though, as this year there are more than a few virtual events planned already, with more to be posted soon.

First though I would like to acknowledge that the past year has actually seen movement on the environmental front. President Biden stopped the dreaded oil pipeline. People seeking ways to stave off lockdown boredom came out in droves last year to hike, camp, and volunteer for a ton of events. The USPS also put out an official Earth Day stamp, which is still available for purchase (and use) on their website. Plus, this year’s EUEC Virtual conference showed that multiple groups are actively working on not only fixing the existing electrical grid, but making it more eco friendly and efficient to boot.

If you would like to get involved this year too, here’s some suggestions.

  1. Start out by asking your local churches, parks, and your kid’s school, as they might be planning something already.
  2. Also check out your local library to see what they have planned, as most do something to honor the day.
  3. If you’re looking for ways to green up your home, then make sure to see what your local nursery is doing, since it is the start of planting season.
  4. You can also check out Ian Somerhalder’s new documentary, ‘Kiss the Ground‘, which is now playing on Netflix. This is getting some really great reviews, especially for the way it offers up hope by not only listing problems, but offering up suggestions for solving them.
  5. Finally, the San Diego Natural History Museum (aka The Nat) will be hosting it’s “The State of Biodiversity” virtual summit over the 4 Thursdays in April. Sign up for free on the summit’s website.

If you know of any other Earth Day events that are planned, please feel free to list them in the comments section,so others might join in too.

Happy Earth Month Everyone!!!

Being Green doesn’t have to be Taxing

Form 1040 - Wikipedia
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I know that life is a bit busy right now, but hopefully it will come as a shock to no one that taxes are due soon. Although this can be stressful for some, it can actually turn out to also be one of the easiest times to flex your green muscles. When thinking about taxes and being green, most people will probably think about donations that they might have already made to any number of charities that help with animals and/or the environment. Although that is definitely on way to link the two activities, it isn’t the only one. You can also chose to donate after your taxes are done, but right before you submit them, at least if you live in California.

Before you finalize your federal tax return, pretty much everyone gets asked if they want to donate to the presidential campaign fund, but on the California tax return you also get asked if you would like to donate part of your state tax refund to any of about 20 or so different charities. Some of the charities deal with things like cancer research, Fire related issues, and autism research. However, several of them also have to do with endangered animals and the environment. If I recall correctly there was one last year that dealt with the otters, and there was a wetlands charity as well that was on the list. Al you have to do is click (or fill in the box) on the ones your want to help out with.

So, if your state tax return has something like this, then this year please don’t just skip over it. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to make a contribution, and you get to choose how much you want to give (anywhere from a dollar up is accepted). Then next year that contribution can even become a deduction. Really it’s a win win for everyone.

No more blursdays

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NO MORE BLURSDAYS!  That needs to start being a national (or perhaps worldwide) mantra. 

If you’re not sure what that means, well then you’re even worse off than I thought.  Blursday is defined by the Urban Dictionary as:

When you’ve been sheltering in place for so long because of a global pandemic you have no idea what day it is as they all blur together. Blursday!

Why does this matter?

It matters because this has become such a common phenomenon that Blursday has actually been picked as one of the new words that will soon be added to the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s one of those sneaky problems that the pandemic brought with it. Together, with all the other changes that we’ve had to make recently, this issue creates drag in our lives, and can further complicate any attempts to create a more balanced meaningful existence.

I know! I know! That may sound dramatic, but it truly is a problem. In the beginning of the pandemic, with all the shutdowns, and closures, this was just seen as a funny little quirk of quarantine life. It was thought to be something that would soon go away, and we would look back, and tell stories about how we suddenly realized it was Saturday instead of Friday, and that’s why the bank was closed early. Only, that isn’t what’s happened. As our yearly lives have been disrupted, the cumulative affect of Blursdays are being felt more and more. All those typical ways that we used to mark our lives, they’re mostly gone. Without those mile-markers, everything just blurs together. Even if you’re working from home, or remote learning, it’s still easy to fall into this trap.

Zoom just isn’t enough of a draw to break up the monotony anymore. I can’t count the number of times I’ve signed up for a chat or webinar, and then completely forgotten about it.

I miss the events that I would normally go to, but am also just as worried that I might never truly feel safe attending them again. Convention for 150,000 people anyone? Yeah, me neither.

However, without those markers on my calendar, the days still blur. So what can anyone do about it?

Perhaps the answer to that really does need to be answered individually. My solution might not work for you, and vice-versa. In the end, whatever you choose, it just needs to make the days stand apart from each other, and in many ways that means there has to be at least a few things on the calendar that you’re truly looking forward to.

Live talks online tend to hold my focus better than pre-recorded ones. Letting everyone know that Wednesday and Friday afternoons are when you’ll be going for your walks might help prevent others from dragging you back into the blur. The return of a favorite TV show (finally) can set up the basis for a date night, or family night viewing party. Or, perhaps schedule a call (phone or video) with a friend of family member, so you both have something to look forward to.

However you go about it, the important thing is that you at least try. Your blurry mind will thank you for it.