Thursday, May 14, 2009

Leave of Absence

Starting tomorrow I will be leaving my comfy confines in an effort to explore, learn, and experience. My travels will take me to an organic farm where I will be sleeping in a tent for a month and learning as much as I can about sustainable growing. I hope my writings and links have helped others in their own adventures, and I look forward to continuing this more frequently again later in the summer. Until then, I'll occasionally check the internet when I get the opportunity to do so. I will be focusing on disconnecting myself from the stresses of the world for a large portion of the next month though, so I will not have frequent updates. I will have a notebook to jot down my thoughts and will post them if I find them worthy of others' time.

It's a great time to be alive.

Thanks to all!

- Teddy Grahams

Nightly Miracles

"One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space. Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages. Otherwise there was no reminder of human life. My companion and I were alone with the stars: the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be see many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will."

- Rachel Carson

Youth Exploitation

Safe and Secure

"Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist
in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger in the long run is no safer than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing."

-Helen Keller

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


"It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Taxing Pop (Soda) to Fund Healthcare?

"Senate leaders are considering new federal taxes on soda and other sugary drinks to help pay for an overhaul of the nation's health-care system.

The taxes would pay for only a fraction of the cost to expand health-insurance coverage to all Americans and would face strong opposition from the beverage industry. They also could spark a backlash from consumers who would have to pay several cents more for a soft drink.

Health advocates are floating other so-called sin tax proposals and food regulations as part of the government's health-care overhaul. Mr. Jacobson also plans to propose Tuesday that the government sharply raise taxes on alcohol, move to largely eliminate artificial trans fat from food and move to reduce the sodium content in packaged and restaurant food.

The beverage tax is just one of hundreds of ideas that lawmakers are weighing to finance the health-care plans. They're expected to narrow the list in coming weeks."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Abolishing the "Quick-Fix" Approach

"People don't want more of the same. Yet, oddly enough, when they ask me what will save the world, they want to hear more of the same--something familiar, something recognizable. They want to hear about uprisings or anarchy or tougher laws. But none of those things is going to save us--I wish they could. What we must have (and nothing less) is a whole world full of people with changed minds. Scientists with changed minds, industrialists with changed minds, school teachers with changed minds, politicians with changed minds--though they'll be the last of course. Which is why we can't wait for them or expect them to lead us into a new era. Their minds won't change until the minds of their constituents change. Gorbachev didn't create changed minds; changed minds created Gorbachev.

Changing people's minds is something each one of us can do, wherever we are, whoever we are, whatever kind of work we're doing. Changing minds may not seem like a very dramatic or exciting challenge, but it's the challenge that the human future depends on.

It's the challenge your future depends on."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

United States Warfare Portrayed By Food

"An abridged history of American-centric warfare, from WWII to present day, told through the foods of the countries in conflict. For a breakdown of the actual battles portrayed in the film, visit"

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Invisible Children

"In the spring of 2003, three young Americans traveled to Africa in search of such as story. What they found was a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them. A story where children are weapons and children are the victims. The 'Invisible Children: rough cut' film exposes the effects of a 20 year-long war on the children of Northern Uganda. These children live in fear of abduction by rebel soldiers, and are being forced to fight as a part of violent army. This wonderfully reckless documentary is fast paced, with an MTV beat, and is something truly unique. To see Africa through young eyes is humorous and heart breaking, quick and informative - all in the very same breath. See this film, you will be forever changed."

Friday, May 8, 2009


"Peace is not achieved by controlling nations, but mastering our thoughts."

- John Harricharan

Quimby The Mouse

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Preventing Deadly Viral Outbreaks

"Are we killing ourselves?

There has been a lot of talk in recent days about how factory farmed animals are the cause of the deadly hybrid virus that is eerily mutating, and some are calling it cosmic retribution, a sort of "chickens coming home to roost" scenario. I don't know about that, but an animal virus like swine flu is a completely predictable (and was a widely predicted) response to our modern horribly cruel and appallingly filthy factory farming systems.

Undoubtedly, some animal welfare people are hoping that swine flu will serve as a wake-up call for humanity, that the "groupthink" in support of intensive farming might move toward thoughtfulness about the health hazards and cruelty of intensively confining animals, and that governments will pass laws to make these "confined animal feeding operations" (CAFOs, the industry term for "factory farm") smaller, cleaner, less cruel, and less dependent on drugs--which are used to keep the animals alive through the filthy and stressful conditions that would otherwise kill them in much greater numbers.

What can we do, as individuals, to create a sea change, to halt the mutation of deadly viruses, to say no to out-of-control business practices, to stop creating environmental havoc, and to bring our health up to a better level? All of this can be covered, incredibly, by thinking very seriously about the foods we choose to eat, and then changing our habits if we find that our choices are generating problems. And as we change as individuals, society and governments will change with us.

I realize it's not painless to give up what we are used to, what we like the taste and tradition of, in favor of a diet that we know is better for us and the planet. But if we lean into the shift of eating consciously by giving up one animal at a time, or eating only vegetarian for two out of three meals, we will find our way and get used to new tastes. We will grow to love different foods that are kinder to our bodies, the environment, and the animals."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Factory Farms Increase the Risk of Disease

"Last year a commission convened by the Pew Research Center issued a report on 'industrial farm animal production' that underscored the acute danger that 'the continual cycling of viruses … in large herds or flocks [will] increase opportunities for the generation of novel virus through mutation or recombinant events that could result in more efficient human to human transmission.' The commission also warned that promiscuous antibiotic use in hog factories (cheaper than humane environments) was sponsoring the rise of resistant staph infections, while sewage spills were producing outbreaks of E coli and pfiesteria (the protozoan that has killed 1bn fish in Carolina estuaries and made ill dozens of fishermen)."


"It is the sadness of zoos which haunts me. The purposeless existence of the animals. For the four hours we spend in a zoo, the animals spend four years, or fourteen, perhaps even longer -- if not in the same zoo then in others -- day and night; summer and winter. . . . This is not conservation and surely it is not education. No, it is 'entertainment.' Not comedy, however, but tragedy."

- Virginia McKenna, Born Free

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mud, Fog, and Humanity

The boy sits silently in the dark. He is alone at the top of a muddy hill, looking down onto the rest of a battered, foggy landscape. While trying to blend in with his surroundings he is hit with a wave of intense despondency. His eyes well up, but he resists from opening the floodgates, attempting with all his might to overcome the purest of human emotions. If he stays still enough, maybe, just maybe, he will become one with the nearby families of deciduous trees, bypassing the illogical drama associated with humankind.

What a silly idea!

The boy is a human!
He must not avoid the rest of his kind!

The trees? We have been perfectly fine for countless millenia.
The humans? It is they who are in need of dire assistance!

Why would one bail on his own species?

The boy hears the trees' remarks and slumps lowly towards the the ground.
He is not a tree, and should never have tried to become one.

But alas!
What if these trees are correct?
What if this boy holds an essential piece to the puzzle that plagues humanity?
Is it right to cower away from the stresses of the world?
Of course not!

Quickly, the boy shoots up onto his two feet. He rips off his shirt, yanks off his shoes, slips out of his shorts, and tears apart his boxers. He dives onto the ground and rolls down the muddy hill, covering his naked body in an earthly sludge all while letting his tears stream outward like a mighty river. At the bottom of the hill he stands up yet again, lets out a roar of anguish, and sprints towards the dark fog.

This is what the human race needs.




I very well may be out of my mind. Perhaps I am a crazy boy who has lost sense of how the world is supposed to work. Nonetheless, for countless decades, if not centuries, the "sane" ones have steered the masses towards a depressing and bleak reality.

I am also aware that I may not have found the answers just yet. I am still young, and if I end up failing in the long run, I promise to go back into the mud I rose up from, peacefully and wholeheartedly.

I am a human.

-Teddy Grahams

Mister Sunshine

Saturday, May 2, 2009


When I walk into the room I notice them.
Their clothing and accessories scream it aloud,
"I am unique!"
As if we are supposed to treat them differently or something,
when in reality they are appearing blandly the same as everyone else,
placing importance on clothing, hair styles, facial hair, and makeup.

I wish we humans would focus on the character from within,
instead of valuing hidden blemishes and generic designs.
A shirt is a shirt whether it is green or pink, dotted or striped.
Show me your acne and let me embrace it.
The bags under your eyes? Dazzling!
Blemishes are perfection.
Do not hide your blemishes.
How boring is a sky when clear of all clouds?
For it is the clouds that make the sky so intriguing and magnificent.
Fear not the natural state.
It is resplendent and grand.

Free yourselves!
Put down the shopping bags and credit cards!
Discard the cologne and mascara!
Give your clothes away!
Love yourself, not what is on you!
You are free!
You are beautiful!

-Teddy Grahams

Friday, May 1, 2009

Avoiding the Physical World

"I think our relationship avoidant nature might have been one of the unstated impetuses for the Internet revolution. The digital communication devices that have come to dominate our social interactions don't ask anything of our social brain, which explains why people will do and say things on their emails and text messages that they would never do in a face to face interaction. Parental concerns over the obsessive texting that dominates teenage life with kids continuously splitting their attention from the people they are with and the continuous inane conversations that are buzzing the phones is just the tip of the iceberg. Research suggests that the idea of becoming a "crackberry" is not just a psychological phenomenon. The continuous rush of dopamine during instant communications can actually create a physical addiction with the classic withdrawal symptoms.

Ironically, it is our need for social interaction that drives our obsession to connect digitally. Continuous messaging makes us feel good and important, even if most of the communications that are exchanged is just banter. Flirting has taken on new meaning for the younger generation where instead of a look, they get a text message. The devices that we believed would enhance our ability to communicate and connect actually interfere with the real relationships we crave. The ease of two dimensional, digital communications make it natural to prioritize them over our real relationships, because they don't engage your social brain the way face to face encounters do. But the danger and risks of substituting digital relations for the real thing is deep and pervasive in our culture. The number of relationships that have been terminated by text message is a small marker for the lack of practice and skill building that the new millennial generation is cultivating in developing full relationships.

Boundaries need to be drawn, distinguishing between the work of relating and the convenience of chatting or texting. We need to be vigilant to the human moment when we are right next to someone and create a virtual boundary around the machine in our hand. The skill of being present to the moment and the activities that develop our social brain functioning happen in the midst of attending to our primary relationships, face to face. Most of the messages that take us away from the people we love most are inconsequential and can wait.

Our relationships mold not just our experience, but our biology. The mirroring that happens in human interacting shapes us in ways as subtle as sharing humor and as profoundly as how our immune system activates in the continuous battle against bacteria and viruses. The social interaction we crave heals us. Now more than ever we need to teach and learn that the relationships that fill our real time, real life are the priority. They are the only means we have to learning that life is a social event, not a virtual one."