February 2013

Why is Feb.15th  Valentine’s Day? See end of article for answer.

We celebrated  Valentine’s Day by visiting a pulmonologist. I had been coughing for over a month with bronchitis and 8 days on amocicillin hadn’t fazed it, what to speak of my days varied between being completely wasted or on a good day being able to sit up for at most 2 hours at a computer. I was getting way behind on all my projects, barely able to do email and an occasional blog post.

He put me on a different antibiotic, prednisone, and a nebulizer which aerosolizes medications to penetrate the lungs. More about all that later but I will say that I have gotten relief from symptoms. At that point in time a 10 foot (3m) walk to the bathroom had me panting.

Afterwards I wanted to take her out for a Valentine’s Day meal so we went to Cheddars.

We have been married rolling up on 38 years and all but 2 of those years were at or below the poverty level, an austerity we chose to perform. We never felt poor because we were really good at it. We heat with wood gathered and split by ourselves so minor cost in chain saw and van gas to cut and haul it but essentially no heating bill.

We bought a house in bad shape, fixed it up and exchanged it for a larger property that had a house in bad shape and fixed that up. We pay insurance and taxes but taxes are cheaper in West Virginia than other places. Laxmi Honest and her husband just moved back to WV because they wanted to retire and they weren’t going to be able to afford the property tax on their house in Florida so they bought in WV and have less to pay. She wanted to move back to New Vrindaban in any case and that may have just been an excuse.

We don’t take airplane vacations or travel much at all. In New Vrindaban the world comes to us as it is a tourist attraction. We don’t have cable TV which is a significant savings every month. I did break down and got satellite internet.

For food we grow a significant part of our own food, belong to a buyers group that has a cumulative order large enough to get free delivery from Frankferd Farms where we can buy our organic split mung dahl which is something I eat regularly but is not available locally and can buy organic foods at case prices. We regularly check out Big Lots which has a food section. I try to buy my junk food off their Clearance shelf but their prices in general are below the super market’s. Occasionally you find a gem like yesterday there was Heinz Organic  Ketsup and 8 bottles so I bought them all and put the extras in my root cellar. So while we do still buy some stuff from super markets, we tend to go after the loss leaders, things on sale, and few other things.

Point of all that is we usually don’t eat in restaurants unless we have to but made an exception for Valentine’s Day.

When my son Marken  graduated from WVU, he had some obligations that kept him in Morgantown for a while so he got a short term job at Cheddars. He started as a dishwasher and quickly moved up  the ladder to bus boy and ended at wraps and salads.

The best story he told from then was when he was a dishwasher the bus boys were supposed to do some prep work before they brought the dishes to him but they wouldn’t and left him more work. One day the other dishwasher didn’t show so his boss stepped into the position. When the busboys failed to bring the dishes properly his boss would spray them with the water hose, much to the delight of Marken.

We were in Morgantown once and needed to eat out so we decided to go to Cheddars, eat, and say hi to Marken but when we got there it was a long line and you had to get a beeper to tell you when a table was ready. Which we decided to punt on because we weren’t that into it.

Still, we had had the desire so went there for Valentine’s Day. It is not usually the kind of place we go because it has a menu heavy with meat but we did find some things to eat, especially on the sides menu. It was busy but no line and had a nice ambiance. Even a vegan could have found something because they had a vegetable platter with salad, some sort of bread and your choice of 4 sides which included the broccoli Vidya got as part of her order.

I had a spaghetti and cheese dish that didn’t come sprawling all over my plate but like a neat upside down bowl shape with ricotta mixed in and mozzarella melted on top with choice of alfredo or marina sauce. I went marinara because I had been a vegan for the last month. It was baked.

Whenever I get any respiratory distress I fast from dairy because despite being full blooded Norwegian and Scandinavians being the most lactose tolerant people on earth, when I get sick milk = mucous.

I used to get hay fever really bad. I would be tearing up so much I couldn’t drive and staying up all night sneezing and dealing with a flood of mucous. I would fast from dairy  and take nettles and it would clear right up.

After I got my liver transplant I had to take Prograf, an immune suppressing  drug to prevent rejection which has worked exceptionally well, as a liver biopsy I had last summer showed no signs of chronic rejection. While I have met a woman who got a liver transplnt 15 years ago, for me it hasn’t worked as well. Known side effects from Prograf are  high blood pressure, diabetes and it is in and of itself nephrotoxic, destroyer of kidney cells. I have no family  history of diabetes so it is the Prograf that caused and diabetes is also harsh on kidneys. Add in Hepatitis C which I failed interferon based treatment twice for and it also is a cause of renal disease and I am doing dialysis 3 times a week.

On the plus side I don’t get hay fever anymore, as it is an over response by the immune system and as Prograf suppresses the immune system no more symptoms.

So I ate my spaghetti and cheese fully expected a mucous storm as I still have the full blown bronchitits but curiously it didn’t happen and no mucous followed.

The really pleasant surprise was they had edamame, boiled green soybeans. We eat it regularly but in the inter we only have it frozen from our garden.  It is good but frozen is never as good as fresh and this was fresh. They also had alittle cup with soy sauce in it and a little plate with a mix of spices on it. They boil edamame in the pod and you take the soybeans our with your teeth as you eat it. The idea was to dip the pod in the soy sauce then teh spices before putting in youe mouth and it came off with beans.

We could identify ginger and salt but we even took it to master chef Sudhanu and he couldn’t tell what the rest were but it was quite good.

Why is Feb. 15th Valentine’s Day?

“What is not exactly known why the 14th of February is known as Valentine’s Day or if the noble Valentine really had any relation to this day.”… Saint Valentine.

Read more at http://www.theholidayspot.com/valentine/history_of_valentine.htm

So why be attached to some specific day? So bearing in mind the previous discussion about being good at being poor why would we celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 15th?
Because everything is 50% off!

Vidya and I had an unusual experience tonight.

We were driving to the temple for the Lord Nityananda’s Appearance Day festival.   As we were approaching the temple in the dark on the road any pilgrim or visitor would have been driving on, she joked,”It would be funny to rent an Abominable  Snowman costume and run across the road in front of visitors.”

Almost instantaneously with the end of her sentence a Great Horned Owl glided across the road right in front of us at headlight level.


Put this in perspective — I have never seen that happen ever before. I have had a great horned owl glide by me in the dark close enough to hear its feathers, and owls have softer  feathers than other raptors  so they can’t be heard in the dark,  and occasionally have seen owls, but sighting great horned owl has been practically a once in a decade event, other then seeing them perched in trees during the day. It is more common to hear them or other owls calling at night.

So we were both practically stunned and amazed and came to the conclusion don’t joke about yetis.

BTW I was trying to find a photo of an owl flying from the side like we saw it but it was really hard. Mostly there are sitting photos and the few flying ones were head on

Although I have never been to Norway I am full blooded Norwegian and was raised in a Norwegian  American community. I also heat with wood and cook on it in the winter. And yes, I am particular how my wood is stacked.

As far as bark up or down — other than having to put it up occasionally due to circumstances when it makes it fit better, of course bark down. Bark up traps water and slows curing and makes it wet when you take it out of the pile. Only a fool would stack bark up.

Note: Norwegian humor tends to be on the dry side.

Norwegian wood

OSLO — The TV program, on the topic of fire

wood, consisted mostly of people in parkas chatting and chopping in the woods and then eight hours of a fire burning in a fireplace. Yet no sooner had it begun, on prime time on Friday night, than the angry responses came pouring in.

Courtesy Lars Mytting

In a country where 1.2 million households have fireplaces or wood stoves, the subject naturally lends itself to television.

“We received about 60 text messages from people complaining about the stacking in the program,” said Lars Mytting, whose best-selling book “Solid Wood: All About Chopping, Drying and Stacking Wood — and the Soul of Wood-Burning” inspired the broadcast. “Fifty percent complained that the bark was facing up, and the rest complained that the bark was facing down.”

He explained, “One thing that really divides Norway is bark.”

One thing that does not divide Norway, apparently, is its love of discussing Norwegian wood. Nearly a million people, or 20 percent of the population, tuned in at some point to the program, which was shown on the state broadcaster, NRK.

In a country where 1.2 million households have fireplaces or wood stoves, said Rune Moeklebust, NRK’s head of programs in the west coast city of Bergen, the subject naturally lends itself to television.

“My first thought was, ‘Well, why not make a TV series about firewood?’” Mr. Moeklebust said in an interview. “And that eventually cut down to a 12-hour show, with four hours of ordinary produced television, and then eight hours of showing a fireplace live.”

There is no question that it is a popular topic. “Solid Wood” spent more than a year on the nonfiction best-seller list in Norway. Sales so far have exceeded 150,000 copies — the equivalent, as a percentage of the population, to 9.5 million in the United States — not far below the figures for E. L. James’s Norwegian hit “Fifty Shades Fanget,” proof that thrills come in many forms.

“National Firewood Night,” as Friday’s program was called, opened with the host, Rebecca Nedregotten Strand, promising to “try to get to the core of Norwegian firewood culture — because firewood is the foundation of our lives.” Various people discussed its historical and personal significance. “We’ll be sawing, we’ll be splitting, we’ll be stacking and we’ll be burning,” Ms. Nedregotten Strand said.

But the real excitement came when the action moved, four hours later, to a fireplace in a Bergen farmhouse….

“What I’ve learned is that you should not ask a Norwegian what he likes about firewood, but how he does it — because that’s the way he reveals himself,” said Mr. Mytting. “You can tell a lot about a person from his firewood stack.”…

Read more here

The reason I tolerate the dialysis and all the other bodily ills is because I am involved with a project and I am afraid if I am not hands on involved it may perish due to lack of attention.

First published on the Brijabasi Spirit, the New Vrindaban Community blog I am involved with as an admin here it is again.

Madhuban Eco Village In New Vrindaban

by Lilasuka dd

Earth sheltered housing and an ox barn: These words call to mind simpler times, connected to the earth. At New Vrindavan, some exciting plans are underway that include just such buildings in a small eco-village. The first of many small, new villages, built around an agrarian, spiritual lifestyle based on the mission of plain living, high thinking, and close connections to Mother Earth in a sustainable way, is in the works. This is an ECOV (Earth Cows Opportunity Vrindaban/Village) project called Madhuban Village.

The road is already begun, and the next phase will be to build the ox barn. Madhava Ghosh, the coordinator of the Village, explains, “For the ox barn’s foundation, we are going  to use recycled sandstone from a 160 year old local girls’ school that was dismantled. We were very fortunate to get that sandstone. The barn will have a timber frame from wood milled right here from New Vrindaban’s own forest. The source of water will be from the catchment of rain off of the roofs as well as the development of naturally existing springs on the property.  There will be composting toilets.  Solar panels will be installed and it will be a zero net metering project.”

“The basis for the ox program in New Vrindavan is to provide hauling and agricultural services for the New Vrindavan community. This is, of course, all in the early stages of development.”

Construction on the  ox barn will begin first followed by building a prototype   earth shelter, the first of five.  This housing will have a low impact on the environment and that is one of the strong points of this eco-village. The plan is to make the shelters out of recycled materials such as rammed earth and old tires and locally available materials — materials with low energy consumption.

The earth shelters will be constructed on the south slope of the ridge that extends out from McCreary’s Ridge Road/Palace Road.  This is the ridge you see going out from the first point you can see the Palace.  On its  southern side, each shelter will have a greenhouse built in which will provide heat by passive solar energy plus growing potential.

There will be two two-bedroom dwellings built and one three-bedroom. There will also be a dormitory for men and one for women.  Eventually a community center will be built.

All buildings, and placement of buildings, on the land will be set up utilizing the principle of Vastu design, an ancient Vedic science of space or construction design to promote optimum harmony with surrounding natural forces.

The earth shelters will act mostly as transitional housing for new, largely young people to come  from the cities, so they can spend some time working the land to see if they would like to take up a simple, yet sublime agrarian lifestyle in Krsna’s service.

On the north side of the ridge, facing the Palace, there will be an orchard of fruit and nut trees which can produce high value crops to support the people who will live there. Some of these trees have already been planted and as  labor and funds are available the whole hillside will be replanted with food bearing crops.

There will also be deer fenced areas for vegetable and berry production.

Donations of money and labor to move this project forward will gladly be accepted and would help accelerate the pace of manifestation.

Madhuban Village will help fulfill one of the missions of the New Vrindaban Community, namely “plain living and high thinking based on dependence on the land and the cow.” This is why New Vrindaban Community is excited to see Madhuban Village develop.


By Ysabel Yates, Contributor

Weighing in at only 0.2 milligrams per cubic centimeter, a new material called Aerographite is now the world’s lightest. Electrically conductive and highly compressible, the material could one day be used in batteries to help advance green transportation.

A team of scientists from Kiel University and the Hamburg University of Technology created the new material using zinc oxide particles and carbon nanotubes. They published a paper on their findings on July 3rd in the journal Advanced Materials.

Jet-black, chemically stable, and 75 times lighter than Styrofoam, Aerographite is strong enough to resist damage. In fact, the material can be compressed up to 95 percent and returned to its original form without any damage. Through tension and compression, Aerographite even becomes stronger up to a certain point.

It’s also electrically conductive, giving it excellent potential for the creation of smaller, lighter batteries. These lightweight batteries could be used to further develop green transportation by increasing the miles-per-charge in electric vehicles.

In addition to battery technology, Matthias Mecklenburg, a Ph.D. student at the Hamburg University of Technology and co-author of the paper, sees potential applications for the material such as cleaning contaminated water, and optical and x-ray absorption.

“It took many, many syntheses to get what we wanted to have: A light, porous, designable graphitic monolithic structure,” says Mecklenburg.

According to Mecklenburg, Kiel University had “a new recipe” to create 3-dimensional micro nanostructures from zinc oxide. At the University of Hamburg, there is “expertise in the growth of carbon nanostructures” using chemical vapor deposition. To synthesize the material, the two research teams combined their strengths.

“The joint decision was to put both processes together to get 3-dimensional hybrid zinc oxide and carbon structures,” says Mecklenburg. “Directly at this moment the idea was born, to create new graphite structures. Until then, no real approach existed.”

The researcher’s next step is to focus on Aerographite’s physical properties to demonstrate its potential for various applications.

This article was originally published on ecomagination

I like to find
what’s not found
at once, but lies

within something of another nature,
in repose, distinct.
Gull feathers of glass, hidden

in white pulp: the bones of squid
which I pull out and lay
blade by blade on the draining board—

        tapered as if for         swiftness, to pierce
        the heart, but fragile, substance
        belying design.               Or a fruit, mamey,

cased in rough brown peel, the flesh
rose-amber, and the seed:
the seed a stone of wood, carved and

polished, walnut-colored, formed
like a brazilnut, but large,
large enough to fill
the hungry palm of a hand.

I like the juicy stem of grass that grows
within the coarser leaf folded round,
and the butteryellow glow
in the narrow flute from which the morning-glory
opens blue and cool on a hot morning.

My bike trip is stalled at 48 miles. I haven’t pedaled for over three weeks due to being too weak. I was  doing 4.5 miles a session.  The last session I only did 4 miles because I had overexerted myself in the morning.

I had been out with Yudhistre cutting fence posts. I would measure and he would cut and stack.  Extra pieces become firewood and I was loading a lot of that into my van.

Then the roof caved in. The van is still not unloaded.

I got what I thought was a cold and it turned into bronchitis  which I finally got antibiotics and an inhaler for. The inhaler turned a relentless and near constant cough into more an occasional visitor but after 4 days on antiiotics I am still too tired to do much of anything though today I am able to sit up for a couple of hours at a time.

The whole situation got complicated by low hemoglobin. Normal hemoglobin is 13-16.  At  dialysis they manage my levels by giving me Epogen.  They aim for 10-11 as more than that they claim could cause strokes or something.

They got a lab reading of 13 so stopped giving it to me for 2 weeks and then resumed it at a lower rate.

One day I was looking out the window on a rare winter sunny day and colors were washed out. The last time that happened my hemoglobin was 7.5 when I was failing interferon treatment for Hep C. Low hemoglobin will make you short of breath.

I asked them to test me and my hemoglobin level did get to 8.  That triggered a blood transfusion which should have revived me. While I noticed more energy it wasn’t dramatic.  That is what prompted a visit to my primary physician and the diagnosis of bronchitis.

In retrospect  the 13 was a lab error as that would explain how their response ended in such a low reading.

He had me get a chest x-ray which ruled out pneumonia but affirmed the presence of a pleural effusion, which is fluid build up in the lung cavity. We have known about this since last summer but now he made an appointment with a lung specialist and hopefully we can get it drained.

So between broncitis, low hemoglobin and the pleural effusion, inhaling more than about half capacity has not been an option. Since the transfusion I have been able to walk the 10 feet (3 meters)  to the bathroom without panting but that is about the extant of it, longer journeys than that mean chest heaving.

So hopefully I will improve soon but for now no exercise bike, trip stalled.

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