Description

The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

My Animal Saver Device

I got tired of reading about wildlife getting trapped in human garbage. I've seen enough disturbing pictures of turtles deformed by six-pack rings and seabirds strangled in plastic grocery bag handles to want to do something about it.

Trash that is hazardous to wildlife is everywhere: I see plastic rings from milk and motor oil containers, plastic bags, elastic hair ties, packaging ties and all sorts of other items in a ring shapeincluding the dreaded six-pack plastic rings. I find them laying in parking lots, park trails, in my front yard and just about everywhere.

It's hard to just leave it there and walk away, knowing the damage it can do. But who wants to touch someone else's trash?

My Animal Saver Device

I found this tool at Wal-Mart for $3.97 plus tax. Super cheap. They're called "aviation snips." I have no idea what that is or how this device is generally used. All I know is that it works swimmingly well at cutting things.

The package states that it "cuts through 1.2 mm of cold, rolled steel." I can tell you from experience that it does all that and more. You don't need a strong grip for this tool to work for youso ladies (or anyone else with dainty hands), you need not be intimidated in trying this. You can cut through all sorts of metal wire or thick plastic as if it were warm butter. It's quite a rush, actually.

I keep this tool in the side compartment of my car door, so it's readily available. I snip things all the time. Sometimes I carry the objects to a trash bag, but if I have to leave them where I found them, at least I've minimized their threat as a wildlife trap.

I keep a small box in my car trunk to haul stuff away, as well as one of those "arm extender tools" so that I can grab stuff that I wouldn't want to touch with my bare skin.

Not On My Watch

You might think this is the hobby of an extremely obsessive, eccentric person. Perhaps that is true. But I can tell you that this is extraordinarily easy to do. It takes no time at all, and it's not even the least bit dirty. Even a germophobe could do this (speaking from personal experience here)! It's something anyone can do, and that is why I'm sharing it.

I may not save all the wildlife out there, but at least the trash I come in contact with has been rendered safer for wildlife. 

At Home

In my own home, I try to make sure that anything that goes in my garbage can or recycling bin has been properly cut. Any loops or rings (including the garbage bag handles themselves) are cut through. This gives me a little bit of reassurance in the odd chance that what I throw away gets loose somehow.

Items floating around in parking lots are more at risk for coming in contact with wildlife than trash sealed away in a landfill. However, you have to imagine at some point in the future that anything in a landfill can and will eventually get loose again. It may take a million years, but it will eventually happen, and I'd like the wildlife that may come in contact with it to have a fighting chance.

For Further Thought

Consider being part of efforts to ban plastic bags and six-pack plastic rings. Look out for petitions and other efforts. There are more wildlife-friendly options being developed, such as edible six-pack plastic rings. Public pressure can do a lot to speed up the process. There are lots of different groups doing this work. The groups in the previous link are large, well-known organizations, but don't overlook small, local organizations, which are often very effective, as well. You can adopt a highway, either as part of an official group or simply tend to the road in front of your home.

We all have to do our share, because if we don't, who else will?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The (Probably) Perfect Deodorant

I wrote about my quest for natural deodorant alternatives so frequently on this blog in years past that I feel obliged to write this post to set the record straight. I have for the foreseeable future concluded my search. I found a deodorant that works amazingly well, is cheap and seems relatively healthy (there is one very small potential caveat, but we'll get to that in a bit).

The answer is: Milk of Magnesia (MOM).

Yes, the same stuff that relieves constipation. 

You apply it to your underarms in a thin coat. My wife paints it on with a paintbrush. I just pour some on my hands and slop it on.

We haven't noticed any problems with odor, even with heavy perspiration, and we've been using nothing but MOM for about three years. It works as well (if not better) than commercial deodorants, and it by far surpasses any of the other natural alternatives. There is simply no need to look elsewhere. The protection is long-lasting and secure. Case closed, end of story.

MOM works far better than baking soda, which is what I previously used for several years. I'm still a fan of baking soda, but you do have to manage it to get it to work right and not burn out your skin.

The one caveat mentioned above involves the inactive ingredients. In some brands of MOM, there are lots of chemical inactive ingredients. The most concerning is sodium hypochlorite (AKA bleach). I go to great lengths to only use MOM that has no other inactive ingredients besides "purified water." No artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and definitely no bleach. Again, these are listed among the inactive ingredients. All brands of MOM have the same active ingredient--magnesium hydroxide. Sometimes it is hard to find the inactive ingredients on the label, but keep looking, they are there (examples are below).

I buy the DG brand, which is found at Dollar General. I believe the Kroger's brand is also good. There are a few other options that I can't remember right now, but not many. 

One internet commenter made the point that bleach is most likely used to purify the water, and that the ingredient "purified water" may have just as many traces of bleach as the labels that actually come out and specifically list it. The good news is that there are other way to purify water rather than with bleach, so there is at least a fighting chance that bleach is not part of the process for all of them.  Given that generics are often made at the same locations and by the same people as name brands, there is a chance that going out of my way to buy a brand that doesn't list bleach is a fool's errand, but there is at least a ray of hope. I seem to be one of the few who maintains a small bit of skepticism on this. Most are satisfied that the brands that only list the following two ingredients are safe: Magnesium hydroxide (active) and purified water (inactive).

Here is an example of a GOOD brand:
(click for a better view)



The following is definitely what you DON'T want:
(click for a better view)




I can't take credit for this discovery. There are many folks exploring healthy uses of magnesium--both internally as a nutrient and topically to relieve achy muscles and joints and for skin care. This is one of their many discoveries. For more info, check out the Facebook group "Magnesium Advocacy Group." 

MOM has all sorts of other topical uses.

Also, check out this article for similar information on MOM as a deodorant.

As news of MOM as a deodorant is beginning to spread, some companies have seized the moment to build MOM-based products. I suppose they have additional essential oils and fragrances for an additional price, but all that seems unnecessary to me. I prefer my $2 bottle of DG brand MOM. I wonder what the cashier thinks of my colon health when I arrive at the checkout counter with a half-dozen bottles of MOM, but so far that has been the only socially awkward moment in using MOM as a deodorant!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Padmé Amidala: A Feminist Critique

Taken from:
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Padm%C3%A9_Amidala
Staying up late with a newborn baby is one way to get re-acquainted with movies and late-night television. I've been enjoying the nonstop Star Wars marathons that have been running since May the 4th. It's been a while since I've seen the prequels, and I have to admit I like them a lot better now than I did when they first came out. Yes, I know fans are supposed to hate them, and they do have flaws, but each one pulls me swimmingly into the drama and mystery of this world that George Lucas created. I think they "work" better now than I originally thought.

However, one glaring flaw gnaws at me. Perhaps it is because of this newborn baby girl and our recent experiences with childbirth, but I have been tuning in much more to the story of Padmé Amidala. She's the young woman who marries Anakin Skywalker (the man who later becomes Darth Vader) and is the mother of Leia and Luke.

At a young age, Padmé was princess and then later queen. She was a highly-influential intergalactic senator who was an outspoken advocate for peace and diplomacy during the Clone Wars. She survived several assassination attempts and took part in her own share of gunfights and space odysseys. She also more than held her own with the increasingly cantankerous Anakin. They married in secret and she was pregnant with their twins.

So what happens to her? Here's where I'm going with this: At the moment of childbirth, she simply dies... of a broken heart. Seriously. The robot midwife cannot figure out why she dies, because her body has no physical issues whatsoever.

I hate to stereotype anyone along gender lines, but is this consistent with any woman you know? Despite her incredibly distinguished career, despite being an international leader during the monumentally turbulent times of war, and at the very moment her newborn babies need her the most, she simply gives up and bails out on life. And why, you might ask? All because she makes the comes to the realization (that I'm sure no other woman has ever had) that her husband is actually an a$$hole. Really.

So to George Lucas, I say: It is easy to believe that this story unfolded a long tie ago in a galaxy far, far away. It's easy to believe that Jedi knights bring peace to a galaxy filled with robot droids, marauding bounty hunters and conniving Sith lords. I find it entirely plausible that there would be an intergalactic war between robot droids and human clones. But I find it more than a little far fetched to think that this woman Padmé would simply fall apart 100% at such a critical moment in her life all because of the shock of discovering that the love of her life turns out to be a galactic jerk of epic proportions.

Would that discovery be soul crushing? Yes. Might she go through some post-partum depression and buyers remorse for her marriage? Absolutely. But this woman has "survivor" tattooed on her soul. You would think she would at least hang out another day to see what tomorrow brings. And then another day... and another. I can imagine her wanting to run screaming into the hills of Naboo from time to time. But I can't imagine her just checking out so totally and so soon.

Just check out her bio on Wookieepedia.