Monday, January 28, 2008

Participate in America's Giving Challenge.

Want to help your favorite nonprofit raise much-needed money? America's Giving Challenge can help. From December 13, 2007 through January 31, 2008, Parade Magazine is hosting a contest to deliver money to America's favorite charities. There are two ways to participate:

* Champion a Cause and have the chance to get $50,000 for the charity of your choice. The eight individuals whose charity badges attract the most unique donors through the America’s Giving Challenge will get $50,000 for their cause.

* Give to a Cause and help the charity you care about get $1,000. The 100 nonprofits with the greatest number of total donations made to them through America’s Giving Challenge will each get $1,000.

Visit to learn more, make your donation, and spread the word. Happy fundraising!

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." - Sir Winston Churchill

Monday, January 07, 2008

Prevent FOG clogs.

When I was growing up there was always a container of grease on the stove. Both my mother and grandmother saved grease and oil from cooking. My grandmother would sometimes reuse clean grease for cooking. She'd use our unedible grease to make lye soap. She used it for everything and gave it away to those of us who valued it. In fact, her last set of Christmas gifts to family and friends was gift wrapped homemade lye soap. How cool!

Nowadays, there's much less grease in my and my mother's homes - healthy eating and all. But every now and again, Kwadjo makes falafel or chicken livers and we have grease. We haven't had any new lye soap since that gift wrapped bunch over ten years ago, so what do we do with the grease? It's a problem for lots of us, particularly in restaurants. Fats, oils and greases (FOG) clogs drains and can cause sewage back-ups and flooding, costing money for repairs and damaging the environment. So here are some tips on how to prevent a FOG clog:

Do not

* Pour liquified fat, oil or grease down the drain. This causes to FOG clogs.
* Use hot water and soap to wash away the grease down the drain. It will harden and clog your pipes.


--> Place cooled cooking oil, poultry and meat fats in sealed non-recyclable containers and discard with your regular garbage. FOG is food waste. Treat it as such.
--> Use paper towels to wipe residual grease or oil off of dishes, pots and pans before washing them. Discard the towels in the trash.

Bottom line - if you're not going to use your FOG waste for fuel (biodiesel or WVO) or for soap, put it in the trash not down the drain. Similar rules apply to motor oil except that it should be recycled. So now Kwadjo and I have container of grease under the sink. When it's full we'll trash it. Maybe one day, though, we'll make soap!

"Opinions are to the vast apparatus of social existence what oil is to machines: one does not go up to a turbine and pour machine oil over it; one applies a little to hidden spindles and joints that one has to know." - Walter Benjamin (1892–1940), German philosopher

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Make better lives for veterans.

It was really cold here last week (at least by Atlanta standards) so during my morning commute, I traded my usual shuttle bus for a MARTA bus which reduces my outside wait substantially. The number 19 bus stops at the VA hospital (among other places) and many of the folks I rode with were on their way there. The passengers chatted about where they served, their current lives, and much more. Lots of men on canes and crutches, though I assume there were nonvisible injuries as well. So in honor of my fellow bus riders, everyone who interacts with the VA, and veterans everywhere, here are a few ideas for ways to support veterans:

* Disabled American Veterans Voluntary Service has numerous ways people of all ages can contribute to better lives for disabled veterans.

* Veterans Administration Voluntary Service offers volunteer opportunities and other ways to help veterans.

* For more opportunities click here for a previous post on this topic.

So take a bus, ride your bike, walk or drive to your VA hospital or other veterans service agency and see how you can help.

"Within the soul of each Vietnam veteran there is probably something that says 'Bad war, good soldier.' [Only now are Americans beginning to] separate the war from the warrior." - Max Cleland, former head of US Veterans Administration, at the dedication of Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Impact your world.

I was trolling CNN for news items that might inspire a post when I stumbled upon Impact Your World. It seems CNN has already done the work for me! Impact Your World challenges readers to "Take action on the news you consume!" The facilitate that work in several ways:

* Click the links associated with the news stories to donate to organizations that make a difference.
* Follow the progress of the Be The Change volunteers. and be inspired to do your own work.
* Visit the Planet in Peril page for tips on protecting our Earth.
* Inspire others to action by sending your story about how you make difference in your community.
* Nominate a CNN Hero and get that person and, more importantly, their cause the recognition they deserve.

Today's front page features ways you can help children in Iraq, people affected by the floods in Bangladesh, and US veterans. Often reading the newspaper or watching the evening news can seem like an exercise in futility. How can one person lessen all the suffering that is reported. Thankfully, CNN's Impact Your World shows us that indeed we can make a difference.

Happy new year, readers! I wish each of your every happiness, every blessing, every joy for 2008.

"Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in the desert." - Khalil Gibran (1883–1931)