Archive | Aug 2014

Chamomile and Ginger: Two Herbs You Need to Consume More Of

Originally posted May 15th, 2012, this is a short introduction to chamomile and ginger, two herbs that are very powerful for healing and for coping with allergies in particular.


Chamomile and Ginger: Two Herbs You Need to Consume More Of

We all have herbs and spices in our cupboards. Whether it’s to season a favorite dish or to brew as our favorite tea, herbs and spices make our lives better.

Two of the most common herbs in our pantries are also the most useful-particularly for digestive problems: ginger and chamomile.

Ginger. Used extensively in Asian cuisine and Chinese medicine, ginger is a natural anti-histamine, particularly for food allergies-without the side effects of other antihistamines. Especially good for stomach issues like nausea, ginger is also one of your best lines of defense against colds and flues. Best yet, ginger does not put you to sleep like many OTC anti-histamines.

Two of the best ways to take ginger are 1) slice fresh ginger root thinly and float in a clear soda like sprite or ginger-ale and 2) eat candied ginger. Candied ginger is widely available in Asian grocery stores and Asian herbal stores or you can make it at home. A good recipe is at also has a good candied ginger at

Chamomile. Most of us have enjoyed a cup of chamomile tea to help us fall asleep. But chamomile is much more than just a sleep aid. It helps with a wide range of digestive issues like indigestion, stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. I’ve found chamomile to be helpful in relieving the extreme pain I experience from food allergies. It won’t stop the anaphylaxis, but it absolutely mitigates much of the discomfort while you wait for the allergen to pass out of your system, making it a powerful partner for ginger in helping with food allergies. A noted sleep aid, chamomile is one of your best and most natural remedies for insomnia. Read these and more uses at

Want a great tea? Try mixing chamomile with green tea or with English (culinary) lavender for a double dose of health. With single cup infusers (my favorite infuser is the Smart Tea Maker from Enjoying Tea mix 1 tsp loose green tea with 1 tsp loose chamomile and 1 tsp English lavender, add hot water, and brew for 4 ½ to 5 minutes. The lavender will add to chamomile’s headache relief so be sure to add it if you suffer from migraines for natural relief.

Silk Basics: Mommes and Fabric Types

Originally posted March 1st, 2012


Silk is a fashion mainstay-particularly for formal wear. Spun from un-wound moth cocoons that dine on mulberry leaves (aka silk worms) and woven into a broad range of fabric types, silk is the original luxury fabric. Silk fibers are extremely strong, yet fine in thickness, enabling it to be both extremely wind and puncture resistant, making it the perfect base for armor and the perfect winter coat material (historically Chinese and other East Asian societies wore coats, not cloaks, for winter protection).

Silk is versatile! Yet for all its history and impact on both Asian and European history and cultures, few people understand its weights and fabric types well enough to make truly informed choices at both fabric stores and clothing stores.

Silk weight is measured in a unit called “mommes” (abbreviated mm in textile contexts) which is how many pounds a silk bolt 45 inches wide by 100 yards weigh. The smaller the number, the lighter weight the fabric. The lightest weight silk I’ve located is a 3mm silk gauze. By contrast, many silk noils (aka raw silks) will weigh between 30mm and 35mm, depending on where you buy it. That makes the silk noil 10 times heavier than the very light and sheer silk gauze. Your average crepe de chine is in the middle, ranging from 12mm to 16mm. Doupion (i) is typically around 19mm (see for actual fabrics at these weights).

Weight alone will not determine how hot or cold your silk will be to neither wear nor what sort of garments it should be used for- though it is critical to that equation. Weave is the other major consideration needed to make that determination. Weave is about how the fibers are put together-how densely and in what arrangement the threads are interlocked. Weave transcends fibers. Gauze, an open woven fabric, may be made of silk, cotton, linen, or any number of artificial fibers and/or blends. Gauze is, by its nature, at least somewhat sheer-as an open weave, the strands are not very close together. Gauze is highly sought after for veils, sheer blouses or shifts (in historic clothing), and so forth. On the other end of the spectrum are velvets (woven with a deep pile), organzas, silk noils, doupion(i), and brocades (silk brocades are typically silk-rayon blends). Weave is easily seen with the eye-if it looks densely or tightly woven, it’s probably a tight weave.

Combined, momme value and weave will provide you will a good sense of how any given silk fabric can and should be used. From crisp weaves like doupion to softer, more clingy fabrics like habotai (aka China silk) and chiffon, the combinations of weight and weave are almost endless. With a little thought and experimentation, however, you can find a silk that cool for summer, warm for winter, and everything in between.

Reblog: 9 Things Successful People Won’t Do

Some great advice for becoming more successful!  Here is Mr. Bradbury’s article in full:



My last post, How Successful People Stay Calm, really struck a nerve (it’s already approaching 1.5 million reads here on LinkedIn). The trick is that managing your emotions is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do.

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). So, I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in order to keep themselves calm, content, and in control. They consciously avoid these behaviors because they are tempting and easy to fall into if one isn’t careful.

While the list that follows isn’t exhaustive, it presents nine key things that you can avoid in order to increase your emotional intelligence and performance.

They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from them.

While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

They Won’t Forget

Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Emotionally intelligent people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

They Won’t Die in the Fight

Emotionally intelligent people know how important it is to live to fight another day. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

They Won’t Prioritize Perfection

Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.

They Won’t Live in the Past

Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this when they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.

They Won’t Dwell on Problems

Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.

They Won’t Hang Around Negative People

Complainers are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral. You can avoid getting drawn in only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix a problem. The complainer will then either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

They Won’t Hold Grudges

The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event involved sends your body into fight-or-flight mode. When a threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when a threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Learning to let go of a grudge will not only make you feel better now but can also improve your health.

They Won’t Say Yes Unless They Really Want To

Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for most people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.



Frugal Parrot Food: How to Buy Bird Seed for Less

Originally posted January 25, 2012

I love my bird. Like most dedicated aviculturists and pet owners, I care a great deal about helping my birds live long, healthy, and happy lives. A well-balanced diet for most companion birds consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and commercially available pellets. Most people feed pre-mixed diets from pet stores. But as with many cat and dog foods, these pre-mixed diets tend to be filled with low-nutrition fillers that add to the price, but not the health of your bird.

So what is the answer and how can you save money on bird food? Make your own healthy, well-balanced food mix. In this article, I will cover my best tips/tricks for buying the seed and nut portion of your bird’s diet.

1) Whole, natural format seeds and grains cost less and work better than their more expensive, bagged, counter-parts.

Find these at your local feed mill for a savings of 50-90%. Often what you want will not be marked as for birds, so instead look for these seeds/nuts fed to companion birds at your area feed mill:

safflower seeds
white millet
spray millet (aka finger and/or foxtail millet)
cracked corn (select species)
sunflower seeds (bagged and sunflower heads)

Nuts (buy whole for larger species; chopped, sliced, and/or slivered for smaller species:
brazil nuts (larger species)

2) Shop the baking section of your area grocery store/fruit-nut store for nuts

Nuts are easily found at your local grocery store. Look for chopped and slivered choices for small to medium birds and whole versions for larger species. Large cockatoos and macaws should be fed nuts in the shell.
3) Utilize the “wild bird” sections of stores.

Foods fed to wild birds are often the same as those fed to companion birds. The wild bird section of discount department stores like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target often sell bagged single seeds at the same or lower prices than pet stores. This does not mean you will automatically save money at these stores–but it helps to include discount department store wild bird sections when comparison shopping!
4) Buy from farms whenever possible.

Farms charge less than any other retailer for their products. As a rule, the more steps between the farm and you, the higher the price. Farmers markets, road-side stands, feed mills, and local markets help you buy direct. Farms offer everything from sunflower heads (my birds prefer sunflower heads over loose sunflower seeds) to nutritious spray millet and beyond. Many farmers have their own websites and eBay stores, so it pays to search these sources.

By using these four tips, you will save somewhere between 50% and 90% every time you buy seeds and nuts. That leaves you more money for pellets, fruits, and vegetables for a healthier bird and heavier wallet.

Bon appétit!

Natural and Common Sense Treatments for Carpal Tunnel and Repetitive Stress Syndrome

April 30th, 2012


I spend a lot of time at the computer. Odds are really good so do you. So it should not be shocking when the repetitive motions of clicking, typing, and texting takes a toll on our fingers, hands, wrists, arms, and backs. All of these are connected. We’ve been told for years that surgery is the only real way to correct the damage done by so much repetitive motion-but as I learned from a neighbor who has carpal tunnel surgery, such surgeries do not provide the promised permanent relief. As I fight against my latest and rather severe flare-up of carpal tunnel syndrome (hence forth abbreviated CTS), I’ve been learning how the best medicine is far simpler than you think.

Proper nutrition. Vitamin B6 and other B Vitamin Deficiencies are linked to CTS. (See Cathy Wong’s Angela Smyth elaborates on this in her medical guide “The Complete Home Healer” that our ability to absorb B6 is often hindered by prescription medicines, creating hidden deficiencies. Smyth advises no less than 100 milligrams of B6 daily to prevent and treat CTS.

Stretching. This seems common sense, but it’s easy to overlook. Our bodies stiffen when we don’t move around enough-such as spending 8 hours per day in an office. When you do not stretch, you build up tension in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, making them more vulnerable to injury and inflammation. Our hands and wrists in particular tend to inflame when we don’t sufficiently vary our movements. Slowly extend each arm over and around your head. Rotate your wrists and fingers into circular motions (this will hurt if your carpal tunnel is currently inflamed). Clench and unclench your fists. Want more? Try these from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Remember that stretching, along with using proper hand and arm positions while using the computer, are your best prevention for developing CTS in the first place! Stretch at least once per 30 minutes! And don’t forget: remove any wrist watches–on an inflamed wrist, the extra pressure created by the band makes your injury worse!

Anti-inflamatory first aid. In CTS, your tendons and nerves in your wrist are inflamed and swollen. This swelling can be helped through old fashioned cold therapy and anti-inflammatory OTC medications such as Advil or Tylenol. details how to properly use cold for acute injuries. Avoid over-medicating on CTS; I take a couple Advil only at bed time. Sleep is, ultimately, the best healer of your injury! Sleep as much as possible.

Screening Optometry: Five Questions to Ask Before You Schedule Your Routine Eye Appointment

Written May 7th, 2012 after a rushed eye appointment led to an incorrect prescription for my eye glasses, this article is designed to help you get the most out of your next eye exam.


Screening Optometry: Five Questions to Ask Before You Schedule Your Routine Eye Appointment

How to Ensure You Receive a Quality Eye Exam


Optometry is big business! Every year, the optical industry generates $14 billion ( That’s a lot of eye doctor appointments, glasses, contacts, and other accessories! So it should not be a surprise that profit motivates both small providers and large optical chains-everyone wants to make the most money out of consumers.

While perhaps we have been taught that profit is the holy grail of industry, when it comes to health care-which optical services and products are-quality needs to trump quantity. Of our five primary senses, we all depend the most on our sight; errors made in the name of corporate profit can have horrible, sometimes permanent consequences to our lives!

In March, 2012 I discovered just how wrong things can go when I made an appointment with a local optical chain, expecting top quality in the examination room and high quality glasses. I received neither. In the process of getting the problem fixed (requiring four visits to their office), I learned key questions everyone should ask before scheduling an appointment with any eye care provider you have used (in that location) for less than five years.

  1. How long is the typical appointment? This question gives you a baseline for comparison. Typically a properly done eye appointment should take between 15 and 30 minutes-longer with ophthalmologists or if you checking for a specific ocular issue beyond myopia (near-sightedness) or hyperopia (far sightedness). If the answer is less than 15 minutes-GO ELSEWHERE. A proper eye exam needs a full 15 minutes to check for everything and to confirm prescription accuracy.
  2. What is your policy on walk-in eye exams? You want to get as much information as possible here. The stores love walk in business and will take quality-diminishing short cuts to put as many people into the doctor’s chair as possible with as short a wait as possible for the walk-ins. If you do need a walk-in appointment, ASK if the doctor is busy or free before you agree to be seen. Remember: if the doctor is cutting short a pre-arranged appointment to see you, odds are both of you will receive less time with the doctor than you need for an accurate exam.
  3. Do you ever double-book appointments? Any optical store may not be honest with you on this subject, but asking will probably cost you nothing. If you do get a “yes” to it, ask for more information-when and how often?
  4. Are your doctors independent of your dispensary? Independent doctors are paid by you-not the eye wear dispensary. That makes them less sales-focused and more patient-focused. Whenever possible, patronize the independent doctors.
  5. What guarantees do you offer regarding eye wear accuracy? In case there is a mistake, know the procedure and any additional costs to you to fix a problem before you schedule your appointment.

A few inspiring quotes from Abraham Hicks

Most of you know by now that I believe in the Law of Attraction as introduced to me in the movie, “The Secret.”  While I disagree with the whole channeling thing, I do find wisdom from the being(s) calling themselves “Abraham” who speak through Esther Hicks.  Whatever the objective (is there one) reality is, the quotes and youtube videos offer useful meditations designed to help us change our attitudes about life and change the paradigms that often bind our choices.


Here are some of my favorite and most useful quotes from and from youtube.

I love the above video because of the way it makes the Law of Attraction make sense, using a river metaphor that everyone can relate to.


And another one that really puts the first video into application


Moving from videos, here are some very useful quotes:

“So, how do you remove unwanted from your experience?

By not putting it on your plate, by not focusing upon it.

By making the best of things, by not beating the drum of unwanted.

By not taking something you know you don’t like and putting it on your plate and then putting it in your mouth and then complaining about it.

In other words….by not exaggerating it, but by making lighter !!”



“If you can practice the art of vagueness on subjects that make you
feel negative emotion ….

and the art of specifics on subjects that DO make you feel good…

you will have figured Deliberate Creation out precisely because that
really is all there is to it.”

If it is a struggle, you are going about it the hard way.

This is the thing we want you to understand.

The path of least resistance is a fun path.

The path of least resistance feels good.

The path of least resistance is clarity.

The path of least resistance is ease.”


Here is an excerpt from that I really like!


“All Ailments Resolve Themselves. 

All things do resolve themselves, if allowed. All things do. 

ALL things do resolve themselves — if allowed.

You say, “Some things resolve themselves,” and you believe that. 

And when we say all things resolve themselves, you don’t really believe that. 

You want to, but you don’t have personal proof about it.

There’s the belief that says, 

“Well, I really don’t believe all things resolve themselves,” 

and as you activate that vibration, all kinds of people start showing up with un-resolved things. 

But that’s not the evidence you’re wanting to attract. 

You’re wanting evidence that says, “All things can resolve themselves.”

Bridge your locked off statement by saying, 

“Well, I don’t know how I’ve been disallowing it. 

I’ve been doing it without knowing I’m doing it. 

But now I am aware that negative emotion means I’m doing it, 

and I’m going to start watching for those moments when I’m not allowing it.”

From Martin Luther’s Sola Scriptura to Modern Biblical Literalism

May 17th, 2012

Politicians swear by it. Conservative Christians insist upon it. It has fueled debates on evolution verses creationism in public schools, civil rights legislation (everything from slavery to racial equality to gay marriage and beyond), and shaped archaeological expeditions to the Middle East. It is Biblical Literalism, the belief that the Bible is the literal and infallible “word of God” that must be read and interpreted as absolutely and literally true-down to every single word.

Biblical literalism is not confined to Christianity. It is also a common position in both Islam and Judaism, both of whom also use, to one extent or another, Biblical texts as part of their theologies. In 2011, Stephen Tomkins of the UK’s “The Guardian” tackled the question of how and why Biblical literalism is so prevalent in our culture in his article “How Biblical Literalism Took Root,” explaining the roots of the Biblical Literalist movement with the Protestant Reformation and its anti-papist viewpoint.

In 1521 Martin Luther was called upon to answer for his previous writings against papal abuses of power at the Diet of Worms, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me.” ( This doctrine of Sola Scriptura (only the Bible), does not actually dictate how the Bible is to be read, interpreted, and applied; it only dictates that the Bible alone is authoritative. Contrary to later Protestant tradition, Luther’s position was that scripture plus reason-not the rulings of the church-should guide a Christian’s life. This focus on reason precludes a truly literal reading of the Bible, particularly as science and technology revises earlier understandings of Nature.

In the centuries after Luther, the Bible came to be perceived as so infallible that every word can and should be taken literally. Modern Biblical literalism was born!

Yet perhaps the modern version is not as productive as we all thought. Perhaps it is time to return to Luther’s intended sola scriptura-scripture alone (as opposed to focusing on outside interpreters)-but viewed through the lens of reason-not blind literalism.



Reblog: What Makes People Buy Self-Published Books?

This post from Tara Sparling offers useful information and analysis for marketing independent books.

Tara Sparling writes

In this post, I discussed the findings of a scientifically incontrovertible study (of myself) on the factors which influenced me when buying a self-published book.

The findings surprised me (which surprised me, because I was surveying myself). I found that I knew what made me buy a self-published book when it was in front of me, but not what put that book in front of me, unless I was browsing by genre (e.g. today I feel like reading a romance set in Ulaanbaatar: therefore I will now search specifically for such a story).

It was still hard to know what put those books in front of my eyes in order to buy them; to quote one of the commenters on that post – this is the thorny issue of “discoverability”. How will we find these books in the first place?

So I did the unthinkable, and asked some other people…

View original post 640 more words

Eating Kosher: Why You Don’t Need to Be Jewish to Eat a (Largely) Kosher Diet

This April 10th, 2012 article explains exactly what kosher means for those of us not raised eating it.


Eating Kosher: Why You Don’t Need to Be Jewish to Eat a (Largely) Kosher Diet

You have been eating kosher all your life. You probably never realized it when your mom served you cookies, pickles, or even apple juice, but whether you are a Jew or a gentile, kosher has been part of your meals from the beginning. It’s everywhere in the supermarket, even if you were not paying attention to those little symbols like the capital “U” in a circle that is the trademark of the “Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations” certifying that a given food is kosher (see more on rabbinical kosher foods and the marks used to certify foods as such see, But if you really look for these symbols you will notice just how prolific kosher foods are at ordinary supermarkets throughout the U.S.

Then there are the Jewish grocery stores and specialty stores found in major cities featuring specific kosher brands many gentiles have never seen in stores before, much less tried. Whether it’s a Jewish bakery featuring every day breads and desserts, Jewish butchers, or even restaurants, you’ll find a dazzling array of kosher foods in major cities.

But, major supermarket brands aside, aren’t kosher foods just for Jews? Originally, perhaps-before pink slime, by-product laden convenience foods, and heavily processed boxed dinners full of ingredients even chemists have a hard time pronouncing! But as we strive to eat healthier and better control what we eat, I’ve discovered the kosher foods I ate by default in Midwood, Brooklyn have qualities that fit very well with my goals for a healthier, less processed diet:

Kosher foods are not made of by-products and garbage meats. By definition, skin, tendons, bones, and other garbage meats are not ground up and put in beef and chicken foods (even hotdogs) certified kosher. While these by-products often make their way into commercial pet foods, humans are specifically not allowed to eat these scrap, “pink-slime” components under rabbinical law.

To be certified kosher EVERY ingredient must comply with rabbinical rules. This limits the number of trace ingredients that are included as part of the processing and what sort of trace ingredients can be included. Kosher is therefore important for those with food allergies as it requires stricter labeling than currently required by the FDA, limiting allergen exposure risks.

Most fresh, whole fruits and vegetables are kosher. There is a reason you don’t buy apples or cranberries with a sticker on it certifying them as kosher. That is because fresh, whole fruits and vegetables are typically kosher. In fact, eating whole fruits and vegetables prepared at home in recipes is one of the easiest ways to keep kosher-but watch any non-fruit or vegetable ingredients like milk, butter, oils, or meats that you might add. Salad dressings can affect whether or not your otherwise veggies remain kosher. While absolute compliance is a non-issue for gentiles (and in fact many veggies a gentile expects to be kosher are not) and less of an issue for many reform Jews, it is helpful for everyone to think about what and how much we add to our fruits and vegetables as it is very easy to destroy many of the health benefits of eating whole fruits/vegetables.

Kosher foods taste good unto themselves. Most non-Jews have not considered eating hamatachen, charoset, challah, kosher sushi, or other distinctly kosher/Jewish foods, but like any other style of cuisine, there are delicious goodies to be found among kosher/Jewish cuisine. Walk into any Jewish bakery in Brooklyn and you will find breads, pastries, and desserts that no one can refuse. Don’t feel you need to be Jewish to indulge; most people who eat Mexican or Italian foods are neither Mexican nor Italian in heritage! Expand your palate!

Consider kosher foods for your pets. This may sound odd, but yes, there is such a thing as kosher pet food. As with human kosher foods, these foods avoid the by-products and junk foods we seen in many traditional brands. The need for strictly kosher pet foods is highly debated across rabbinical literature, but the consensus seems to be kosher pet food is mostly a non-issue except for observant Jews during Passover. At Passover, kosher food for pets is preferred.

Eating kosher is only mandatory for Jews, but with an open mind and a taste for enjoying a broad range of foods, gentiles can discover the healthy benefits and tasty delights of eating Kosher-Jewish cuisine–for you and your pet.

For more information, please see,,,,,

Psittacosis: Not a Death Sentence for Your Bird

In May 2011 I bought a beautiful whiteface pearl cockatiel I named Elendil (not realizing the bird was female) from a pet store on Kings Highway near the Kings Hwy N train station — not knowing the cage was filthy and that yellow on her tail was excrement.  Elendil flew away upon my move to Johnstown Pennsylvania in October, 2012 — but her life and the lessons learned about Psittacosis — lives on.

Psittacosis: Not a Death Sentence for Your Bird

Successfully treated for psittacosis, Elendil loved to sit on her multi-branch java wood perch and play with her toys.

Successfully treated for psittacosis, Elendil loved to sit on her multi-branch java wood perch and play with her toys.

Originally posted February 1st, 2012


It is no secret I love my birds and do absolutely everything I can to provide the best housing, food, toys, and enrichment opportunities for them. When it comes to successful aviculture, regular visits to an avian veterinarian are an important but often overlooked part of keeping healthy birds. Many expert sources advise a physical for all new birds to one’s home, before allowing the new bird(s) to interact with any other birds or pets you are keeping.

This simple piece of advice saved the lives of all my birds when, in late May 2011, I brought home from a Brooklyn pet store a new flock member, a whiteface pearl cockatiel cock I named Elendil . What my sight loss and the placement of the pet store cage prevented me from seeing at first was a tail encrusted with runny yellow feces-and a crippled left foot. A few hours after settling him into his cage, the foot issues manifest. I called the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine (88th & Columbus Ave, New York, NY) for the next available appointment for him. Two days later, my vet looked at Elendil and told me the meaning of these abnormal feces: PSITTACOIS, also known as “parrot fever” and scientifically known as Chlamydia psittaci or Ornithosis. Psittacosis is highly contagious-not only between birds, but between birds and humans. For this reason, our ancestors dealt with the disease by slaughtering affected birds.

Fortunately for Elendil, today’s avian veterinarians now have an antibiotic solution to this painful and lethal disease. The treatment is far from cheep, but for parrots, with their expected life spans in the decades, it is an investment worth making.

If your bird contracts Psittacosis, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe doxycycline. My vet administered Elendil’s doxycycline in weekly shots for six weeks. Depending on your bird’s specific situation, additional medication, administered by you orally once or twice per day at home, may also be required. Elendil’s treatment involved a total of three different oral medications. In addition, I had to purchase a hospital cage, special perches, stainless steel food dishes, a small aquarium to weigh him in, and a gram scale for twice daily weightings. These are the standard expenses you should expect. Like Elendil, your bird may need a few days in ICU during the early part of treatment.

Today, Elendil is a happy, healthy young bird almost one year old, still very much a toddler. Despite the crippled foot, he is doing very well.

Psittacosis used to be a death sentence. Today it is treatable…and well worth the expense!

“Quantum Leap” Guest Stars Who Shaped Science Fiction

The science fiction theme continues with this look at Quantum Leap.


“Quantum Leap” Guest Stars Who Shaped Science Fiction

“Quantum Leap” starring Scott Bakula (later known as Captain Jonathan Archer from “Star Trek Enterprise”) and Dean Stockwell (1984 “Dune’s” Doctor Wellington Yueh with “Star Trek the Next Generation’s” Patrick Stewart) was one of network television’s most ambitious and creative science fiction series. For five years audiences were mesmerized as we watched Dr. Samuel Beckett and Rear Admiral Albert Calavicci work together to “set right what once went wrong” on project “Quantum Leap.” More than fifteen years after the series finale, we are still just as enthralled as ever.

Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell did not solve history’s little problems alone. Instead “Quantum Leap” depended on dozens of guest stars, launching and advancing the careers of everyone from Terri Hatcher to Neil Patrick Harris. Yet for science fiction fans, the guest stars that stand out the most are those by some of the best names in science fiction, many of them with recurring roles in “Babylon 5” and “Babylon 5 Crusade.”

David Allen Brooks: Better known as “Babylon 5 Crusade’s” Max Eillerson, Brooks appeared in the “Quantum Leap” season three episode “Miss Deep South” as sleazy photographer Clint Beaumont.

Claudia Christensen: Appeared as Allison in season one’s “Play It Again Seymour.” Christensen is best known Lt. Commander Susan Ianova on “Babylon 5.”

Joshua Cox: Appeared as Officer Milardi in season five’s “Star Light, Star Bright.” Cox is perhaps better known to fans of “Babylon 5” as Lt. David Corwin, the ever-present junior officer at “Command and Control.”

Denise Gentile: Played Janett in season three’s “Piano Man.” Gentile is better known for her recurring role on “Babylon 5” as Lise Hampton, Michael Garibaldi’s love interest.

Lance LeGault: Guest stared as rancher Chance McGill in season one’s “How the Tess Was Won.” LeGault’s career across film genres is enormous. Fans of the original “Battlestar Galactica” remember him for playing Maga, the Borellian Nomen from “The Man with Nine Lives” and “Baltar’s Escape,” along with “Bootes” in “The Lost Warrior.” Fans of “Star Trek the Next Generation” remember him as Klingon Captain K’Temoc in the second season episode “The Emissary.”

Anne Lockhart: Best known as Sheba from the original “Battlestar Galactica.” Lockhart guest starred in “Quantum Leap” as in season five’s “Star Light, Star Bright.”

Roddy McDowell: Appeared in “A Leap for Lisa” from season four as Edward St. John V. McDowell is best known for starring as Cornelius in the ground breaking “Planet of the Apes” movie series from the 1960s and 1970s.

Robert Duncan McNeill: Appeared in season two’s “Good Night, Dear Heart” as Greg Trusedale. Science fiction fans know McNeill best as Lt. Tom Paris from the starship “Voyager.”

Marjorie Monaghan: Stared in season three’s “One Strobe Over the Line” as model Edie Lansdale. Fans of “Babylon 5” remember her as Tessa Holloran, aka “Number One” from the Mars resistance as a Freya from the “Star Trek Voyager” episode “Heroes and Demons.”

Andrea Thompson: Guest starred in season three’s “The Leap Home, part two Vietnam,” as photojournalist Maggie Dawson She is perhaps better known to “Babylon 5” fans as telepath Talia Winters.

For more information on “Quantum Leap,” “Babylon 5,” and its (guest) stars, please see
Quantum Leap Guest Star ListQuantum Leap Episode Guide TV.comAlbert Calavicci character biographyAl’s Place Quantum Leap Fan SiteBattlestar WikiLance LeGault at Memory Alpha,The Babylon Project

Reblog – song and pics

Okay, this is very cool!  Another blog picked up one of the songs from The Ghosts of the Past


Book two of the Peers of Beinan Series, Ghosts of the Past features six original songs.

Book two of the Peers of Beinan Series, Ghosts of the Past features six original songs.

The specific song picked up is “I Shall Always Find You” which appears TWICE in Ghosts of the Past.  First it introduces Lady Feawen to the story in chapter 8.  Then it reprises in chapter 12 as a duet sung by Princess Anyu and Lord Knight Elendir.


Check out the song, then head to  for the kindle edition, or to get it for Nook!

‘Our Last Best Hope’ for Going Where No One Has Gone Before’

Originally published March 14, 2012, this is another article connecting Star Trek and Babylon 5

Majel Barrett guest stars on Babylon 5‘Our Last Best Hope’ for Going Where No One Has Gone Before’

Science Fiction fans are known for their cult followings. From “Star Trek” to “Star Wars” to “Babylon 5” to “Sliders” to “Quantum Leap” to “Firefly” and beyond, fans just love our science fiction series. So when stars from one series guest star on another science fiction series, we consider it a special treat. Here are some favorite “Star Trek” cast and crew members who also contributed to “Babylon 5.”

Walter Koenig: best known for his role as Pavel Andreievich Chekov in “Star Trek (the original series)” and its related motion pictures, Walter Koenig played “Babylon 5” villain Alfred Bester, the Psi Cop who gives the “Babylon 5” command staff-and its resident telepaths Talia Winters and Lyta Alexander-more headaches and adventures than any of them particularly want. Alfred Bester’s first appearance in the series is in season one, episode six, “Mind War.” Also look for Bester in season 3, episode six, “Dust to Dust” and season 3, episode fourteen, “Ship of Tears.”

Majel Barrett Roddenberry: from Christine Chapel to the Enterprise computer voice to Lwaxana Troi, “Star Trek’s” first lady also appeared in “Babylon 5” in season 3, episode nine “Point of No Return” as Lady Morella, the seeress widow of Centauri emperor Turhan whom Londo Mollari seeks out. In one of the most memorable “B5” guest appearances, Majel Barrett proved why she is so cherished in the science fiction world.

Dorothy Catherine Fontana: while not in front of the camera like Walter Koenig and Majel Barrett, Dorothy “DC” Fontana’s contributions as script writer to both “Star Trek” and “Babylon 5” are substantial. She famously wrote “Journey to Babel” for “Star Trek TOS,” “Yesteryear” for “Star Trek Animated,” and co-wrote “The Naked Now” for “Star Trek the Next Generation.” On “Babylon 5” she wrote season one, episode seven, “The War Prayer,” season one, episode seventeen “Legacies,” and season two, episode four, “A Distant Star.”

Honorable Mentions: “Babylon 5” Stars Who Are Known for Contributions to Other Series

Mira Furlan: For fans of “Babylon 5,” Mira Furlan is beloved as Minbari Ambassador Delenn, the descendant of Valen who eventually marries Commander John J Sheridan. After “B5,” Mira Furlan went on to guest star as Danielle Rousseau in ABC’s “Lost” across several memorable episodes.

Bill “Billy” Mumy: As Minbari Ambassador Delenn’s aide, Lenier, Bill Mumy stole our hearts and moved us to tears at times. But years before “Babylon 5,” Bill Mumy starred as Will Robinson on the original 1960s “Lost in Space.”

Daniel Dae Kim: As Excalibur first officer Lieutenant John Matheson, Daniel Dae Kim gave us a picture of telepaths after the “Telepath War” in “Babylon 5 Crusade.” My personal favorite telepath character across the “B5” universe, Kim becomes the perfect “B5” telepath icon. After “B5,” he joined the cast of ABC’s “Lost” as plane crash survivor Jin-Soo Kwan.

Melissa Gilbert: while appearing in just two season three “Babylon 5” episodes “Shadow Dancing” and “Z’ha’dum,” Melissa Gilbert’s performances as Anna Sheridan steal the show as she worked opposite her husband, Bruce Boxleitner. Yet Melissa is best known for playing Laura Ingalls in “Little House on the Prairie” in that iconic role.

In Dorothy’s Footsteps The Legacy of a Star Trek Pioneer and Legend

Though it received fewer comments on Yahoo Voices, this tribute to Star Trek pioneer Dorothy “DC” Fontana remains popular among science fiction fans.


In Dorothy’s Footsteps

The Legacy of a Star Trek Pioneer and Legend

April 2nd, 2013

On March 25th, the legendary Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana turned 74 years old. Dorothy has been a pioneer in science fiction since first beginning her work with Gene Roddenbury in 1963. She wrote some of Star Trek’s most famous episodes, including “Journey to Babel” for the original series, “Yesteryear” for the animated series, Star Trek the Next Generation’s opener, “Encounter at Far Point,” and “Dax” for Star Trek Deep Space 9 (see’s recent interview with Dorothy Fontana).

Babylon 5 also owes some of its glory to Dorothy Fontana with “The War Prayer,” which is one of my favorite episodes from season one, a poignant story about racism, politics, and love. A famous line from that episode is delivered by Londo Mollari, “My shoes are too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance.”

I remember reading Dorothy’s work in junior high when I first discovered Star Trek on a serious basis, books marked “D.C. Fontana” on the cover, disguising the fact that my favorite science fiction author was a woman.

Growing up, I never saw any examples of women science fiction writers, as if it were a complete oxymoron — rather like a female physicist or astronomer. Women were teachers or nurses — not writers and certainly not scientists! Women were supposed to get married, have children, stay home, and promote their husbands’ careers. And if their marriage was abusive or unhappy, women were supposed to just put up, shut up, and hope to not be killed by her husband.

As a child I often questioned this expectation for my life as a girl growing up in a very conservative, Evangelical Christian home. My feelings were dismissed as defiance and rebellion. There was something unnatural about me for loving science.

Without knowing that my favorite science fiction writer was a woman, I had no clear evidence my family was wrong. Only in later years, when Ms. Fontana’s real name came forward to me, did i realize that across the many years of my life, my role model for great science fiction writing was a woman.

In the aforementioned interview, Dorothy (no longer D.C.) talks about the barriers she faced as a woman daring to defy gender stereotypes and the discrimination that forced her to publish under pseudonyms. No one would take “Dorothy” Fontana seriously in the 1960s and 1970s when some of her most cherished works were first published and produced on television; using her initials masked her gender from sexist eyes.

Hidden from view, Dorothy Fontana changed our world. Everything we think of as “Vulcan” we owe to her pen and her willingness to not let gender stereotypes define her nor lesson the quality of her work.

More than perhaps most of the visible icons of the “women’s movement,” she quietly followed her talent and imagination, opening doors for the rest of us who dream of the stars, understand science, and embrace our gift for language.
The legacy of Dorothy Fontana is in every single woman who dares to be more than “just” a woman, who follows her passion, no matter where it takes her, including and especially to the stars.

Forty years after “Journey to Babel,” the barriers are not completely gone for women in science fiction. But they are fewer. Today, no woman feels she needs to conceal her gender to the world when she writes. We are allowed, finally, to pursue the “final frontier” as Star Trek puts it in ourown right.

The Myth of Perpetual Trauma

Originally posted June 25th, 2012

“You really need to see a therapist” advises a perfect stranger responding to my comment on a news blog where I discuss the gross under-reporting of sex crimes and domestic violence. My remark is sociological in nature, referencing data I learned in my university education which included sociology, social psychology, and pre-counseling psychology courses. The person reading it regards my data as “angry” and “hurt” in nature and assumes that I am a survivor of some sort of domestic violence or sex crime who needs professional help.

She was correct in assessing that I survived something, but completely off-base in her assumption that surviving something automatically means that the person is so traumatized by the event(s) that she presently needs professional therapy. Knowing nothing else about me, she could not know my personal medical history, much less the details of the crimes, yet she felt it appropriate to stick her head into very private personal business. Her underlying assumption was “if victimized, then need help.”

As well-meaning as her intent was, it is faulty in its logic. Every single person and every crime is different. We each respond to the stressors in our lives differently.
Sometimes a stressor like domestic violence or rape un-nerves us, undermining our capacities to live normal life. In these cases, it is probably advisable to seek professional help in getting back to a more productive mental state.

But the point of therapy is not to stay in therapy forever; the point of therapy is to get BETTER and NOT be in therapy any longer. The point of therapy is to HEAL – just as you heal from a physical woundIt is SUPPOSED to end; if no end is in sight, then the treatment isn’t working and a new therapist and/or approach is needed, just as you would do for any physical condition – like my chronic migraines where prescription drugs didn’t help, but a change to holistic therapy DID in reducing my physical pain.

Just as a stressor may unnerve us, it may equally INSPIRE us; we can and typically do respond to stress POSITIVELY. Surviving domestic violence or a sex crime often provokes us to make positive changes in our lives, allowing us to break destructive habits, increase in wisdom/insight, and grow deeper in our chosen spirituality. We learn from every experience in our lives; the most stressful events are generally the best teachers.

Despite living my life today with physical scars on my body that will never really go away from the crimes I suffered, I can honestly tell you that I would not change anything about my life, even and especially the mistakes I’ve made.
I am not less of a person. I am not weak for surviving criminal behavior. All of these experiences have given me insight, forced me to grow religiously, and developed inner resources and skills I would never have been able to. Through the crimes I suffered, I came to finally overcome several bad habits I’ve had that, in hindsight, have been rather self-destructive. Under the stress of coping with these hurtful events, I have discovered that I BLOSSOMED as an individual. My insights and understanding of the world is rooted in them.

Have I ever gone to therapy? Absolutely, many times over the course of my life, and using many different approaches. But therapy did its job: to help me cope and move on.

Surviving a crime is not a life sentence, no matter how brutal, horrible, or long-lasting. We all heal and move on. Surviving is not weakness, not something to be pitied. The strongest people in the world all survived some sort of serious trauma. Remember that next time you hear someone suffered something; odds are really good they are tougher inside than you are!