Friday, November 30, 2018

Video: Monitor Your Air Quality w/Plume, State of the Air, BreezoMeter & AirNow (w/ safety mask recommendation)

California's recent wildfires taught me an important lesson: You don't need to live inside the exact boundaries of a natural disaster to risk the potential health problems it might create. Despite living many miles from those fires, our skies turned brownish-orange and our air quality deteriorated drastically, with fluffy ash accumulating on our cars overnight like tiny gray snowflakes. 

It was scary! And it was made even more frightening by our inability to answer these three simple questions: 
  • Exactly what kind of pollutants, if any, are in our air? 
  • Is it safe to breathe or exert ourselves outside?  
  • If the air's not safe, how can we protect ourselves from the pollution?
After doing some searching, I discovered that there are apps that can help you answer these questions. In the video below, I review a few of my favorites and make a recommendation about a readily-available safety mask that can help you keep your lungs healthy if you need to work or play outside when the air is bad. If you find it valuable, please share it with a friend. It could help you both get through bad air events with your lungs (and your health) intact. 

YouTube Video: Monitor Your Air Quality w/Plume,
State of the Air, BreezoMeter & AirNow (+ recommended safety mask)

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Friday, October 26, 2018

VOTE! Why & How in 3 Simple Steps (w/links to tools & info)
Watch 4 min video: "President Obama Doesn't
Have Time For These 7 Excuses Not To Vote

Why Vote?  

These quotes say it all: 
"You can either vote by voting or vote by not voting. If you don't vote, someone else's vote counts more. IT'S MATH." - Occupy Pragmatism
"Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote." - William E. Simon
"If American women would increase their voting turnout by 10 percent, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children." - Coretta Scott King
"The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men." - Lyndon B. Johnson
And then there's my favorite thing to say to my non-voting relatives or friends when they whine about their elected officials: "Did you vote? No? Then you clearly have no right to complain!" 

How to Vote: Three Simple Steps

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Travel Back in Time, Through the Mountains of France & Around the World with Robert Louis Stevenson

[NOTEThis article contains a lot of beautiful, but sometimes complex, prose. If you'd prefer to listen to, rather than read, this material, click here. You'll get my audio narration which you can easily download and play at your convenience.]

From a Brilliant Writer, Brilliant Travel Essays

What do you get when one of the best writers of all time sets out on a personal odyssey with a donkey and documents his travels?  You get delicious prose like the paragraph below, describing a night under the stars in the Cévennes mountains in France, circa 1859:

"Night is a dead monotonous period under a roof; but in the open world it passes lightly, with its stars and dews and perfumes, and the hours are marked by changes in the face of Nature.  What seems a kind of temporal death to people choked between walls and curtains, is only a light and living slumber to the man who sleeps afield.  All night long he can hear Nature breathing deeply and freely; even as she takes her rest, she turns and smiles; and there is one stirring hour unknown to those who dwell in houses, when a wakeful influence goes abroad over the sleeping hemisphere, and all the outdoor world are on their feet.  It is then that the cock first crows, not this time to announce the dawn, but like a cheerful watchman speeding the course of night.  Cattle awake on the meadows; sheep break their fast on dewy hillsides, and change to a new lair among the ferns; and houseless men, who have lain down with the fowls, open their dim eyes and behold the beauty of the night."
-- from Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes, "A Night Among the Pines," by Robert Louis Stevenson

Author of such timeless classics as Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and A Child's Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson also created some not-so-famous travel treasures that you can enjoy, absolutely free, as ebooks from Project Gutenberg. Why should you read these lesser-known Stevenson creations? Because they'll take you back in time and all over the planet and hold a magnifying glass to a world of simple things that are also complex and wondrous when seen through Stevenson's eyes. Like travel itself, the experience of reading these can't help but broaden your perspective and deepen your empathy.

Some Teasers

Below are a few of my favorite passages from a couple of these works, along with links to the Project Gutenberg page where you can download the complete work in a suitable format for your particular e-reader. I hope these fragments inspire you to get the rest of the work from Gutenberg and settle in for your own slow, conscious journey back in time and around the world.