Wednesday, November 26, 2014

this is *not* about the availability of honey....

"The President’s Task Force should listen to the body of science that links pesticides to bee harm and bee declines," stated letter signatory Jim Frazier, PhD, an emeritus entomology professor at Pennsylvania State University and commercial beekeeper adviser who specializes in chemical ecology."

''Over 100 scientists and researchers have urged a federal task force to take immediate action on bee-harming pesticides. In a letter (pdf) dated Monday and sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture head Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy, the scientists write that documented bee declines "are not sustainable," and stress that the pollinators play a crucial role "in our agricultural system and economies." Beekeepers in the nation have been hit with average losses of nearly 30 percent for the past eight years, they write to Vilsack and McCarthy, who lead the months-old Pollinator Health Task Force. Protecting the pollinators, they write, means listening to a body of scientific evidence that links a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics, with lethal and sub-lethal harm to bees. [...]
Further, the letter states,
the White House Task Force should recommend incentives for farmers to create healthy pollinator habitats in the form of diversified, pesticide-­free landscapes as an alternative to our current system of intensive monoculture. Such landscapes support natural enemies also, and thus provide an alternative to pesticides. Maintaining high-­quality habitats around farms aids in promoting pollinator richness and diversity. Thriving populations of beneficial insects result in a healthier and more resilient crop as well as benefiting the larger ecosystem.''

Industrial agriculture is destroying our water, wrecking the soil and we are a sicker population after it's all said and done. Food is cheaper, sure, but it's also depleted, lacking life-giving energy, so one pays for it in the end, with increased medical costs. The bees are the canary in the coal mine. (Coal: that's another thing... .) Pollinators like honeybees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat... . Pollinators killed by pesticides = one third of your favorite foods *gone*. Will we just wait to see what happens? Or, will enough people see the writing on the wall and begin to pressure elected officials for needed action?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Spirit of Thoreau

Walden Pond

UU First Friday Series 
December 5th - 7:30 PM
The Spirit of Thoreau 
Attention, Activism, and Adventure
Speaker: Bryon Williams
Today, author Henry David Thoreau’s distinctive insights on nature, society, and selfhood are as relevant as ever. In this talk, we will explore Thoreau’s influential legacy and consider some implications of Thoreau’s ideas for important issues of our own time. Bryon Williams, who teaches English at Duquesne University, has a long standing personal and professional affinity for the works of Henry David Thoreau.

Free to the public - Sponsored by
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ligonier Valley
1.5 mile East of Ligonier on Route 30

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kim and John’s post…….

This letter was sent to Ligonier Borough Council Members to be read under correspondence at the November Council meeting.  Instead, it was pulled from correspondence and given to the mayor for his personal reading.  A copy was given to the Ligonier Echo for publishing but did not get printed.  In an attempt to  let people know how our local government operates and in the interest of freedom of speech, we are submitting this to the Ligonier Living Blog.

Ligonier Borough Council
120 E Main Street
Ligonier PA 15658

November 11, 2014

Dear Council Members of Ligonier Borough,

Regulations regarding trees between the sidewalk and curb are defined in Chapter 131 Shade Trees of the Ligonier Borough and any trimming   by the property owner requires a permit issued by the Shade Tree Commission.  These regulations shall be enforced by the Commission in conjunction with the Mayor and the Borough police.  

It appears that our mayor not only chooses to not enforce Ligonier ordinances, he also knowingly violates them as indicated by the recent radical pruning of a number of trees on Summit Avenue.    All that remain of about a dozen large trees on Summit Avenue is the trunk and a few stubs that once were large branches leaving our street looking like a war zone.

The mayor added insult to injury by dumping all trimmings from the trees onto the roadway blocking parking spaces on a street that already has limited parking.  He then left the debris on the street until the borough employees hauled a number of large truck load away to clean the street at tax payer's expense.

The average Ligonier citizen trims and disposes of tree trimmings at their expense as required by our ordinance while those who feel privileged and entitled do as they please.  Our mayor appears to be out of control and we would like to know if our borough council can do something to correct this situation.

Very truly yours,

John and Kim Shaffer

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mountain Palace & Happy Healthy Inc


How We Talk, or Don't, About Climate Change

"If we only knew more about climate change, would we start getting serious about fixes? Researchers have found that more information about climate change doesn't necessarily form people's opinions. "There are lots of different dynamics that operate in how people form their perceptions of risk," says the Cultural Cognition Project: scholars looking at the impact of group values on perceptions of risk and related facts.

"Climate change has a certain kind of meaning in our culture. It's a kind of badge of membership and loyalty to a group." Now if you make a mistake in expressing that, you actually could suffer a lot of adverse consequences in your own community. He cites the case of South Carolina's former U.S. House Representative, Republican Bob Inglis, once considered one of the country's most conservative politicians. He was booted out of office in 2010 after he said the GOP should follow scientists near-consensus on climate change.

So how does (Yale Professor) Kahan himself avoid these thought traps? He advises talking to a trusted person you know who holds the opposite position on climate change or other divisive issues, like using vaccines. "We have to accept as known by science far more than we could understand," Kahan says."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mountain Palace - Cold Weather Special!

Hot Peppers and Sliced Potatoes with Ground Beef and Rice is the weekend special at Mountain Palace! Come to enjoy this traditional northern Chinese cold weather special or any of our other Happy Healthy menu items. Friday 6 to 9, Saturday 12 to 9 and Sunday 12 to 6. Traditional Chinese Medical Exercise class will be held at Mountain Palace at 11 Saturday. Eleven miles north of Ligonier left off of Route 711 onto Creek Road directly across from Mirror Lake.

So who is the mystery woman with the WWII Vet Grand Dancing Champion at the New Florence VFW Halloween dance?

Gluten Free Community Supported Bakery

Community Supported Bakery

or CSB, as we like to call it!  After having been a part of the amazing Ligonier Country Market this summer (Remember the Polka Dot tent? Yep, that was us!!), we are happy to be able to serve you throughout the year, and keep you and your family safely fed with gluten free breads and goodies.

We are beginning our second season of the CSB on Thursday, November 20, 2014. We are moving into an 8-week season this time around. We will accept late entries into the season, but please call to discuss your options. 866-835-4948.

Our CSB is modeled after a traditional farm CSA, but with a few variations. Here's how it works.  As with a CSA, you pay one time at the beginning of the CSB period for the whole period, and no more money will exchange hands unless you’d like to add to your weekly order.  Every Thursday, you will go to the pick-up site after the drop-off time, and take the bag with your name on it. It’s seriously that simple. The pick-up site in Ligonier is at Thistledown at Seger House.   

Our gluten free community is growing, and we all need to lean on each other for recipes, support, guidance, etc., and this CSB is a great way for you to get to know those strong people around you.

 Click HERE to download and print out the order form. You can return the form via snail mail or email, and you can pay by check or credit card (call us to process it). Easy peasy.

Mike Nichols, 1931-2014

"All these years later, it’s still every bit as funny. Before Mike Nichols became the Academy Award-winning director known for iconic films like “The Graduate” and “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” he was a talented comedian on the Chicago improv scene. While attending the University of Chicago, Nichols met Elaine May. After the two worked together as members of the Compass Players, a predecessor to Second City, they formed the improvisational comedy duo of Nichols and May in 1958, launching both of their careers. Their skits were incredibly memorable and influential, earning the duo a Grammy award, their own show on Broadway and other accolades. Perhaps their best known bit is the “Mother and Son” skit, in which May plays the relentlessly nagging mother of an aerospace engineer."
There is also the classic “$65 funeral” skit, as performed here on Jack Paar’s show.
And, of course, their water cooler routine.

Putting the interests of one property owner (or set of property owners) in front of the interests of the community as a whole...

Here's a three-minute video of how some parents in Butler approached their supervisors when fracking threatened the health and safety of their rural community. The visuals of this industrial process are worth seeing again. Any community in PA on the radar of the oil and gas industry - and that would include the Ligonier valley - will need this kind of resolve and organization to protect their landbase:

"The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Clean Air Council and a local parents group Protect Our Children, are challenging an ordinance in one western Pennsylvania town that will allow six gas wells to be developed on a site close to a school campus. The Middlesex Township Zoning Board heard testimony on the challenge to the ordinance on November 18th."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

NASA computer model of CO2 traveling around the world

"With U.S. corporate interests revved up to plunder ever more fossil fuel, NASA has released a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - the deadly result of all that plunder - travels around the globe. Called a “Nature Run,” the ultra-high resolution visualization, shown for the first time at this week's  SC14 supercomputing conference in New Orleans, shows plumes of carbon dioxide primarily from the northern hemisphere mightily swirling and churning with the winds and seasons. The 2006 model clearly shows huge red masses billowing, then dispersing in the summer as they're consumed by photosynthesizing plants, to be largely overtaken by seasonal forest fires in the southern hemisphere before eerily surging again come winter. Mesmerizing and terrifying."

Is There an App for That?

“Are kids growing up in the digital age really different?” asks Howard Gardner, Hobbs professor of cognition and education. Six years ago, he and then-student Katie Davis, Ed.D. ’11, set out to explore the question, and in their new book, The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World (Yale), they argue that the answer is unambiguously yes.
“When do things that are optional become blinkers on how we see the world?” asks Gardner. He and Davis argue that people can be app-enabled, using apps as tools to eliminate tedious tasks and catalyze new forms of exploration, or app-dependent, relying heavily on the available tools as a substitute for skill and reflection. And the authors argue that automation itself is a dual-edged sword. “Who decides what is important?” they write. “And where do we draw the line between an operation”—using a GPS to navigate to Boston’s North End, for instance—“and the content on which the operation is carried out?”—orienting oneself in the city. Gardner points out that many of today’s teens have never been lost, either literally or metaphorically, and that many don’t even see the point of a “random walk,” an experience that he argues can build independence and resilience.

Apps are here to stay, the authors make clear, and the question now is how to make use of them in a productive, creative way. As an educator, Gardner favors what he calls a “constructivist” approach to learning—in which knowledge is acquired through exploration—and he believes that apps, by shortcutting discovery, can diminish this engagement with the world. Before downloading an app, he says, people should ask themselves what they would do without it: if they had to obtain directions or contact a friend, for instance, without a smartphone. “Even though a well-demonstrated toy or well-designed app has its virtues,” he and Davis write, “there is also virtue—and even reward—in figuring out things for yourself on your own time, in your own way.”

about the air near fracking sites

“We see a lot of cognitive difficulties. People get asthma or breathing difficulty or nose polyps or something with their eyes or their ears ring — the sorts of things that come on very subtly, but you start to notice them.”

"A study conducted by Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany-State University of New York tested air samples taken by trained volunteers living near fracking wells. The measurements were taken during “heavy industrial activity” or when the volunteers experienced symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or headaches, according to U.S. News. Other samples were taken during designated periods to monitor for formaldehyde. Slightly less than half of the samples exceeded recommended limits, according to lab results. Samples that exceeded recommended limits did so by very high margins, with benzene levels ranging from 35 to 770,000 times greater than normal concentrations, comparable to a driver being exposed to 33 times the amount they would be while fueling their car.Hydrogen sulfide levels were 90 to 60,000 times higher than federal standards, while formaldehyde levels reached 30 to 240 times higher than normal.

“This is a significant public health risk,” said the study’s lead author. “Cancer has a long latency, so you’re not seeing an elevation in cancer in these communities. But five, 10, 15 years from now, elevation in cancer is almost certain to happen.” Benzene, one of the four chemicals in diesel, produces known health complications in people, prompting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require permits for any drilling involving diesel. However, an FDA loophole known as the “Halliburton Loophole” exempts fracking companies from restrictions set by the Safe Drinking Water Act and federal Clean Water Act.
“I was amazed,” said Carpenter. “Five orders of magnitude over federal limits for benzene at one site — that’s just incredible. You could practically just light a match and have an explosion with that concentration.”Benzene is known to cause leukemia and cancers of other blood cells, as well as short-term effects like headaches, tremors, sleepiness and vomiting, according to Hydrogen sulfide, which carries a rotting egg smell, is linked to asthma, headaches, poor memory and eye irritation. Formaldehyde, also a known carcinogen, is linked to nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia, among other health effects."

having fun with uber-conservatives

"The residents of a small German town managed to turn a neo-Nazi rally into an anti-Nazi fundraiser by playing a trick on the supporters of the Third Reich. For many years, Wunsiedel has become awash with neo-Nazis every November when supporters march through the town in honour of the National Heroes' Remembrance Day. They choose Wunsiedel because it was the original burial site of Rudolf Hess, Deputy Fuhrer to Adolf Hitler from 1933 to 1941. In 2011, the roughly 1,000 inhabitants of the town managed - with the agreement of family members - to get Hess' remains exhumed and his gravestone destroyed. However, marchers still flock to the town, albeit in smaller numbers. So this year, come the march on November 15, a campaign called "Rechts gegen Rechts" (Right against Right) decided to turn the neo-Nazi rally into a charity walk.

Instead of protesting against the demonstration, shop owners and residents in Wunsiedel pledged to donate 10 euro for each metre the neo-Nazis marched. They managed to raise 10,000 euros. The money went towards EXIT-Deutschland, a charity that helps people leave neo-Nazi groups. The pro-Hess marchers had no idea until they began their walk, noticing along the route that villagers had set up motivational signs, showered them with confetti when they finished. A sign explained to them they had just raised money against themselves as they crossed the finishing line. "It was an absolute success," said Inge Schuster, spokesperson for the mayor of Wunsiedel, told The Local. "It created something positive out of (the march), including the €10,000 donation for EXIT-Deutschland."

The villagers even provided food for the neo-Nazis along their journey. The edibles were on offer under a banner that read "Mein Mampf" meaning "My Food". Fabian Wichmann, a researcher at EXIT-Deutschland told The Local, "They probably won't go away. The history of the town is too important to them, but at least we've created something good out of it."

INSOMNIA via Traditional Chinese Medicine

Many people are suffering from insomnia which causes many health problems such as poor immune system function, risk of anxiety and depression, obesity, high blood pressure, risk of heart disease and risk of diabetes.  Sleeping pills can help you temporally, but their side effects will affect your health to put your body system out of balance and sleeping pills will become resisted if you take the pills for a long time.  This class will teach you how to treat insomnia with traditional Chinese medicine methods including pressure point, anti-insomnia rice and herb soup and anti-insomnia herb tea to help you get rid of this health problem living in happy healthy!

Lingzhi Cai, M.D., Ph.D.
Live Virtual Classroom Internet-Wide Accessibility or In Person at Mountain Palace
Friday November 21 1:30pm

Web link for Windows, Mac and Android users at:

19th annual regional juried art exhibition at SAMA

In the past nine years alone, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Council for the Arts has made it possible for 550 artists to share their work with the community.
The council will present its 19th annual regional juried art exhibition at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley tomorrow with an opening reception to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. The exhibition, featuring works from more than 60 artists, will be displayed through Feb. 8.
“Our mission statement is to try and facilitate the arts in the area,” said treasurer and website administrator Bonnie Hoffman, 66, of Ligonier. “We sponsor the annual exhibition to give regional artists a chance to exhibit their work.”

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Loyalhanna Creek nominated for 2015 River of the Year

Loyalhanna Creek is one of five Pennsylvania waterways nominated for 2015 River of the Year through the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds & Rivers.
Susan Huba executive director of the Loyalhanna Watershed Association submitted the local waterway for the honor but is looking for the community's help to win the competition.
“This will be a great way to be recognized on the state level,” Huba said. “People have the opportunity to learn about the beauty of the environment and history of the area. Plus, if we win, we get $10,000. That's a huge grant.”

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