Thursday, August 30, 2007


-Noun 1 a : material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy.

But it's so much more than that, isn't it?

Okay, so my first few posts were pretty soap-boxy, and some days are just going to be like that. Today, though, let's talk about MEAT! No, there is no "this is why you should become a vegetarian" diatribe to follow. Today we discuss meat because today I receive my first delivery from Burgundy Pasture Beef, a nearby ranch that supplies pastured beef, lamb and hogs (plus extras) to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I am most excited!

This is a mid-point step in a process of finding local sources for as much of my food as I can. The idea of eating cows that have been fed grain (which they were never supposed to eat), hormones, antibiotics, chicken waste and other cows really bothers me. I'm going to try my hardest not to eat any more sick livestock (but I'm really not ready to become a vegetarian - pigs are delicious). I realize that when dining out, all bets are off, but fortunately I don't dine out very often. Soooo...hold the line, please...I'll be back with an update when my parcel arrives!

[While you're waiting, let me tell you what I do know about Burgundy Pasture Beef. They are located in Grandview, Texas. All of their livestock is pasture-raised, as well as hormone/drug free. They have a nice selection of meats to choose from, as well as dog bones, soup bones, eggs and cheeses. Their prices are quite reasonable, they deliver all over the area on Thursdays and Saturdays, and in my communications with them so far, they have been extremely responsive and helpful. Oh, and they only require a 10 pound minimum order for delivery, so you don't have to commit to buying an entire side of beef. Okay, now, let's wait for the meat...]

Everything arrived exactly on time, and looks good! I requested smaller-sized cuts for our two-person household, and they accommodated that request across the board. My dogs aren't going to know what hit them - the bag of dog bones I ordered is huge, and full of fresh, marrow-ey goodness. They also supplied me with recipes, cooking tips and fresh product lists. All in all, a success! I'll put up subsequent posts after I've cooked some of this stuff. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Pledge Allegiance... the big-box retailer that sold me my American Flag.

The Pledge of Allegiance was in the news yet again today. More wrangling over the use of the phrase "under God". This is nothing new, is it? We've been going round and round over this for some time. So what I want to, what I need to know is:

If the wording of the pledge is so vitally important that the changing of it might threaten everything our nation stands for, then, uh, why don't more people say it?

Why is recitation of the pledge only compulsory for school children?* Sure, there are probably other groups out there who recite the pledge as a matter of course, but by and large, the average adult American probably hasn't said it since their school days. Do you recite the pledge every day upon waking? Is it said throughout your workplace at the start of each shift? No?

I've always felt that this obsession with the pledge was a little silly, partly because it's really no measure of a person's patriotism and because it isn't universally spoken (which renders it an ineffective tool for creating national unity). The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 for "The Youth's Companion" magazine in Boston. It was intended to be part of a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America. I simply can't believe that at the time of its writing, it was ever intended to be a nationally recognized declaration of patriotism or love of country. Not that there's anything wrong with that; we already had one in the form of our national anthem. It's also worth pointing out that as children in grade school, my classmates and I didn't even have a firm understanding of what the words in the pledge meant, and were simply repeating, as opposed to speaking from the heart. We dutifully stood up every morning and said what we had been told to say, without any deeper understanding of how those words applied to us. I'll even go so far as to suggest that less fortunate children may have been silently contemplating how it didn't apply to them.

So maybe it's time to reconsider whether two words in a statement recited by only a fraction of Americans will really destroy the fabric of our society. The things that do destroy us are poverty, greed, inequality and above all, indifference. We all know that we'd rather be shopping the sale at Best Buy this weekend, anyway. And please, if someone refuses to recite the pledge, it doesn't make them any less of a patriot. As far as I'm concerned, the best way to show patriotism and love of country is still by voting.

* While it is no longer compulsory by law, I would argue that peer pressure, social stigmas and the generally accepted authority of teachers and parents over children makes it compulsory in effect.

Monday, August 27, 2007

On Giving Self, Not Stuff

I have issues with gift-giving.

Don't get me wrong. Few things make me happier than giving someone that perfect thing. Whatever thing it is that brings them pure, childlike joy. If I can make it a surprise, that's even better. But compulsory gift-giving for birthdays and holidays often leaves me feeling frustrated, drained and just, well...wrong.

As a society, we've wriggled our way into a mindset of always needing to give a gift, and the more expensive the better. I'm not sure if we've been worked over by clever marketers, or if we've done this to ourselves in the spirit of greed and one-upmanship, but just try not giving someone a gift on their birthday (or worse, Christmas). You won't feel right about it, and everyone else will make extra sure that you don't. So we waste countless hours and even more dollars shopping for something perfect and wondering if they'll like it, only to load people down with stuff that they don't need or probably even want. And they, in turn, do it to us. This has been plaguing me for some time - I had to stop the madness.

I was out of town for my sister's birthday. When I returned, we decided to spend a Saturday together, doing whatever she wanted to do. We planned a full day - the zoo, the aquarium, lunch in between, and whatever else we saw fit to work in. It was insanely hot. We trapsed around town all day, mostly outside, sweating ourselves down to human-shaped piles of salt. I didn't buy her a gift. Instead I gave her a full day of my life plus photos, and an experience we'll be talking about for a long time. I was concerned at first that it wouldn't be "enough of a gift". It turned out to be more than enough. We had a terrific time. She was happy, I was happy and we set a new precedent; we deemed the gift of togetherness to be not only acceptable, but even preferable to material items.

I'm not suggesting that we stop giving material gifts altogether. It is, after all, a tradition - a mainstay of American culture. I'm simply suggesting that sometimes, the perfect thing might be you.

Friday, August 24, 2007

How Much Is Enough?


I'm a 35-year-old accountant living in Texas. Like any human being, I strive to reconcile myself and my experience to the larger world. I find modern life to be at once complex and oversimplified. I want to know where my place is in the context of our society. I want to be the best person I can be. I want to live the life I want to live. I want to hold fast to my beliefs.

A bit about me:
  • I'm an environmentalist living in a car-loving, business-driven city. I'm more hardcore than most, but a lot less hardcore than some.
  • I'm a non-religious person living in a very Christian state.
  • I'm a liberal person living in a very conservative state.
  • I have no interest in wealth or status, in a city where wealth and status rule.
  • I want to be self-sufficient in a world of convenience.

I live in a small house on a moderate income. I have reliable (but modest) transportation, food, utilities, a bit of extra spending money and the love of my family. I have good friends and a job that I enjoy. As far as I'm concerned, this is all I need and want. I don't want a designer handbag. I don't want to be on TV. I don't want a five-bedroom house. I don't want a diamond anniversary bracelet. I don't want to look younger. What I have is enough.

In upcoming posts, I plan to explore the concept of "having enough" as it relates to all sorts of issues, since it seems to be the foundation for all of my mental wrangling. First though, I'd like to know - what does "enough" mean to you?

One final word - this is a friendly site. Bashing is unproductive and won't be tolerated.